On our October visit to the riverside “Bush Garden” in Mundingburra, we spotted pink hibiscus-like flowers high up in the foliage.
Greg identified the tree as Lagunaria queenslandica (Malvaceae). It’s a species endemic to Queensland that occurs naturally in open forest and riparian vegetation along seasonal streams.
When it grows in open areas, Lagunaria queenslandica has a spreading habit as suggested by its common name, Queensland Pyramid Tree. In contrast, the tree at the Bush Garden is tall and slender, working its way upwards in a narrow gap within this densely-planted revegetation area.
Young leaves have a pale scaly underside that becomes smoother with age. They are said to have a faint citrus smell when crushed.
Lagunaria queenslandica can be propagated fairly easily from seed if you wait until the pale green fruits have matured to brown before extracting seeds. Take care to avoid irritant fibres when handling the seed capsules.
Lagunaria queenslandica is an attractive and hardy tree that attracts many birds. It’s well suited to local parks and large gardens. Tubestock plants of local provenance are sometimes available at the Landcare nursery in Rowes Bay.
Be aware that commercial nurseries sell similar-looking trees that are cultivars of a different species, Lagunaria patersonia. The natural species Lagunaria patersonia is endemic to Norfolk Island.