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Flowers of plants in this genus are produced in umbrel-like clusters with numerous small flower groups to 1 inch wide. The flowers are followed by green fruits that ripen to yellowish-brown and split open to reveal their seedy contents.
Milkweeds are known to be toxic to livestock and domestic fowl, but usually under conditions of forced ingestion of large quantities through mismanagement or drought.
The extremely bright color make it easy to spot. Like most milkweeds the juice is milky white. Long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars). Drought-tolerant. Listed in the U. S. Pharmacopeia in the 19th century the root was once widely used for lung problems such as asthma and bronchitis. Contains cardiac glycosides which are toxic in large amounts.
Plants are tolerant of dry conditions, easy to propagate and have many interesting features. Naturally distributed from north-eastern Victoria to Townsville and from the coast through to the semi-arid inland, B. populneus inhabits various well-drained soil types, often occurring among rocky outcrops of granite or limestone and also thriving on deeper soils in some areas. The species Brachychiton populneus has two subspecies that differ in adult leaf shape. Subspecies trilobus has a more northerly and inland distribution and displays leaves with 3, sometimes 5 narrow lobes. The adult leaves of subspecies populneus have reduced side lobes and appear more like those of poplars (Populus species). Flowers are bell-shaped and whitish in color with the inner flower tube streaked purple-brown. Cultivated hybrids involving B. populneus display pink or red flowers. Seeds are borne within woody, boat-shaped fruit 1"-4" long and are surrounded by fine hairs that can cause skin and eye irritation. Juvenile plants, which display attractive lobed leaves and swollen taproots, make good pot-plants tolerant of dry and pot-bound conditions that respond well to pruning. Trees are typically stout with glossy-green foliage and are widely used as street trees in Australia and overseas. Native populations on agricultural land are often retained to provide dense shade and drought fodder. Leaves lopped from branches are nutritious and desirable to stock, however consumption of the fruit may cause illness. The deep rooting trees have minimal impacts on cropping and also support honey production. Ground-up seeds can be brewed into a coffee substitute or added to bread. The swollen, carrot-like taproot is a nutritious and agreeable vegetable and the gum exudate is also edible. Kurrajong fibre taken from the stem has been used in twine and netting manufacture. Propagation is from seed or cutting. Seeds are readily germinated and immersion in warm-hot water then soaking for 12 hours enhances success. Care must be taken to avoid the irritating hairs surrounding the seeds. Cuttings from plants with desirable characteristics may be grafted onto seedling rootstock. Plants to 6Ft respond well to transplantation if the swollen taproot is conserved and the branches trimmed to reduce water loss. By: Australian National Botanic Gardens
Several species of Kalanchoe may be found growing as houseplants in Canada and the USA. The young plantlets which grow along the leaf edges are easily dislodged to become new plants and can be found in profusion around the base of the adult plant. Blooms with showy bright pink bells. Easy to grow, tolerates drought and almost any conditions.
Caesalpinia mexicana is evergreen shrub or small tree. The foliage is similar to Mimosa spp. and is light green in color. Showy fragrant, yellow flowers (3 to 6 inches )blooms all summer! Seeds and parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Mexican Bird of Paradise is heat and drought tolerant and can grow to 10-20' tall. Caesalpinia mexicana prefers partial shade or partial sun to full sun and needs well drained soil.