Interesting Plant Foliage

Interesting Plant Foliage

We are blessed in South East Queensland by having many small native trees whose foliage provides both colour and texture. There are so many different and interesting native plants that grow in a large variety of form, colour and texture at the Paten Park Native Nursery (Paten Road, The Gap).

The tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides), has stiff, mid green leaves which contrast dramatically with sprays of orange-yellow fruit which split to expose three black seeds surrounded by a fleshy red aril. The green wattle (Acacia irrorata) has soft, feathery leaves. The butter-yellow balls of flowers are prolific in summer and attract many species of butterfly. Another butterfly attractant is the white alder (Callicoma serratifolia) with its dark green, gently serrated leaves with silver underside and clusters of cream, fluffy flowers in spring.

The forest she oak (Allocasuarina torulosa) has a lovely conical shape with cork-like bark and numerous pendant branchlets bearing olive green scales (the reduced leaves). Another pendant tree is the weeping bottlebrush (Melaleuca viminalis) with its small, light green lanceolate leaves and profuse, bright red flowers spikes in early summer and autumn.

Melaleuca viminalis – Photograph by Geoff Fox –, CC BY 3.0,

These fine ‘leafed’ small trees are quite unlike the native holly (Alchornea ilcifolia) which has stiff holly-like leaves which are purple when young and turn a deep green. It has round green-brown seed capsules. This plant, with its protective leaves, can be a nesting area for small birds.

Alchornea ilcifolia – Photograph courtesy of Louis O’Keefe.

Plants with strap-like foliage include the bird’s nest fern (Asplenium australasicum) with its fronds radiating from a central hub at ground level. The native ginger (Alpinia caerulea) has stems of about 1m arising from a creeping underground stem and bearing large, elongated, light green leaves. This ginger has white flowers followed by blue globular fruit that are edible.

Softer foliage is found in the swamp foxtail (Baloskion tetraphyllum) which grows in clumps in damp, well-drained soil to about 1.5m tall. This beautiful plant forms dense clusters of fine, lime-green branches which hang down and resemble fox tails. The barb-wire grass (Cymbopogon refractus) also forms dense clumps of fine emerald green leaves. Its name is derived from the arrangement of seed heads on their stalks.

Visit the nursery which is open from 9am to 4 pm Tuesday to Saturday and 9am to 1pm on Sunday or explore the website to see the wide range of stock available.

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