THE FIREWHEEL TREE - Stenocarpus sinuatus

Firewheel tree - Stenocarpus sinuatus

The magnificent and aptly named Firewheel tree - Stenocarpus sinuatus is right up there as one of nature's greatest flowering plants. It was discovered in 1832 by the Scottish botanist John Claudius Loudon (1783 - 1843).

Native to Papua–New Guinea and the Australian rainforests of New South Wales and tropical Queensland, the defining feature of this medium to large evergreen tree is its bright red, ornamental flowers which are produced in a circular formation - hence the common name Firewheel Tree. These stunning flowers are produced February to March.

A relative of the Protea family Stenocarpus sinuatus is widely planted as an ornamental tree, particularly in the other territories of Australia.

Firewheel tree - Stenocarpus sinuatus flower
They will do best planted in full sun to light shade and to encourage the their deep root system it is advantageous to give it an occasional deep watering rather than regular light watering. In drier Mediterranean climates it will need some supplemental irrigation over the summer.

It is tolerant of most soils so long as they are well-drained but avoid the temptation of apply of Phosphorus fertilizers as this will adversely affect the growth. Be that as it may, Stenocarpus sinuatus will benefit from the occasional supplemental of a micronutrient applications.

Despite its more tropical origins, Stenocarpus sinuatus has proven itself to be adaptable to a range of climates. It is surprisingly cold hardy and for short periods can tolerating temperatures down to around 25° F!

The name Stenocarpus comes from the Greek word 'stenos' meaning narrow, and 'karpos' meaning fruit. It was first used in 1810 to describe Stenocarpus salignus by the Scottish botanist Robert Brown (1773-1858). The species name 'sinuatus' means wavy which relates to one of the two shapes of leaf found on this plant.

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