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Products > Brachychiton acerifolius
 
Brachychiton acerifolius - Flame Tree
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Malvaceae (w/Bombacaceae & Sterculeacea)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Brachychiton acerifolium]
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 20-30 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Brachychiton acerifolius (Flame Tree) - A striking deciduous tree from Australia that grows upright to reach 40-60 feet tall with spread about half its height but is usually seen in California in the 30 to 40 foot range. It has a stout trunk and older stems that have a wrinkled gray colored bark with newer green stems holding shiny bright green lagre leaves that are 6 to 9 inches long and deeply lobed on younger trees that become more shallowly lobed on older trees. In later spring, often while the tree is still completely leafless, appear the waxy bell shaped red flowers held in pendant clusters that on good years can cover the entire tree. The flowers fall cleanly, creating a nice display on the ground and are followed by 5 inch long dark brown woody fruit pods that split along the seam to display yellow seed. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally to infrequently when in leaf - blooms best in drier winter years and when not irrigated and can be semi-evergreen with early and continuous fall and winter rains. Drought tolerant once established. Young trees a bit more tender but eventually hardy to about 25 F. A nice clean plant with a compact root system that does not raise pavement or have a lot of leaf drop so useful as a street of patio tree or even as a container specimen or indoor house plant. In Australia, where this tree grows throughout the subtropical regions in coastal shrub and forests along the east coast of Australia from Illawarra to Cape York, it is known as Flame Tree and Illawarra Flame Tree. It is also called Kurrajong, though this name is usually associated with Brachychiton populneus. The name of the genus comes from the Greek words 'brachys' meaning "short" and 'chiton', which means a "tunic" (a loose garment) in reference to the coating on the seed. The specific epithet relates to the foliage appearing similar to that of a maple in the genus Acer. This tree was originally introduced into California by William Walker at his Golden Gate Nursery in San Francisco in 1859 from seed received from John Sutter the year before. There are fairly old specimens of this species in Santa Barbara and when Dr. Francesco Franceschi (Orazio Fenzi) arrived in Santa Barbara in 1895, he noted flowering specimens of this tree growing about in the city, noting those that looked best were the most neglected or were growing in poor or shallow soils.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Brachychiton acerifolius.
 
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