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Products > Brachychiton acerifolius
 
Brachychiton acerifolius - Flame Tree
   
Image of Brachychiton acerifolius
[2nd Image]
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 large leaves that are 6 to 9 inches long and deeply lobed on younger trees but 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 cold hardy to short duration temperatures down to around 25 F. A nice clean tree 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 in New South Wales to Cape York in northern Queensland. 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. It is commonly known as Flame Tree and Illawarra Flame Tree and is also called Kurrajong by some, though this name is usually associated with another species, Brachychiton populneus.

Brachychiton acerifolius was originally introduced into England in 1824 and grown at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew under glass since that time and was 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 already growing about in the city, noting those that looked best were the most neglected or were growing in poor or shallow soils. 

This information about Brachychiton acerifolius displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.

 
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