Deep yellow wood

Deep yellow wood

It feels great to grow native plants, but to grow one that has observable environmental benefits and a striking habit adds to that feeling. The deep yellow wood (Rhodosphaera rhodanthema), found naturally between the Macleay River in NSW and Maryborough and inland to the Bunya Mountains, has both attributes. This beautiful small tree has a cylindrical trunk whose heart wood is deep yellow when first cut (hence its common name) and a rounded canopy of alternate, pinnate, green leaves. Between September and October large, terminal panicles of small bright-red flowers that attract native bees emanate from each branchlet. These are followed by clusters of green fruit which turn chestnut brown and shiny. The scientific name is derived from ancient Greek – rhodon (rose) and sphaera (ball) referring to the reddish fruit and anthema (from anthos) meaning red flower.

This bushy, fast growing dry rainforest species is highly adaptable. It grows in most soils that are well drained, is tolerant to drought, moderate frosts and tropical heat and can withstand both full and partial sun. Of major consideration is the fact that the deep yellow wood is hard to set alight and so is an ideal tree for areas prone to bushfire. Since its initial growth is rapid, it is an excellent replacement tree for the invasive, exotic camphor laurel and jacaranda. As its roots are non-invasive, this tree can be grown in gardens, as a street tree and along roadsides. Its dense, columnar shape suits its role as a windbreak or screen species. It also makes an attractive indoor plant.

Deep yellow wood timber is highly regarded in cabinet making. This soft to moderately hard wood is fine grained with streaky colouring of mustard and yellowy bronze with a silky lustre.

Rhodosphaera rhodanthema, Deep Yellow-wood
Rhodosphaera rhodanthema. Photograph by Neil Murphy.
Rhodosphaera rhodanthema, Deep Yellow-wood
Rhodosphaera rhodanthema. Photograph by Neil Murphy.
Rhodosphaera rhodanthema, Deep Yellow-wood
Rhodosphaera rhodanthema. Photograph by Neil Murphy.

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