SHADY SPOT: Schotia brachypetala at Gogango.
SHADY SPOT: Schotia brachypetala at Gogango. Contributed

GARDENING: Finding the perfect shade tree

This week Rockhampton Regional Council agreed to develop a strategy for the planting shade trees in the region. After the cyclone, the region lost more than a third of the region's tree canopy.

While many home blocks are too small to have large shade trees, a large number of parks would have the capacity to accommodate large trees. Some of my suggestions for shade trees I would love to see planted in parks across Central Queensland:

Bolusanthus speciosus or Tree Wisteria is the perfect modern tree, small and compact, shady and has the ability to be grown in small yards or along roadways. This tree produces purple pea-shaped flowers that will hang like bunches of grapes, but its flowering time is only short-lived.

Cassia Grandis or Pink Shower Tree is a shapely canopy tree suitable for most gardens. Masses of pink and white that will completely cover the tree during spring and summer. Cassia Grandis will often explode into flower after the first rains arrive.

Ficus hillii or Hills Fig is an evergreen tree with bright green foliage. Of all the shade trees grown in Central Queensland the Ficus hillii would be the hardiest and most suitable. This tree does have an incredibly invasive root system, so care is needed in selecting the right position. The Ficus hillii planted in the town of Capella on the Central Highland would provide the best example of a natural air conditioner.

Tipuana tipu.
Tipuana tipu. Contributed

Flindersia australis or Crows Ash a large tree, growing in a pyramid shape, that is more suitable for a large yard. Flowering in spring with dense bunches of white flowers with brown centres, followed by a seed pod that is a floral artists dream.

Khaya senegalensis or African Mahogany is a large deciduous tree small scented creamy white flower during summer. Growing to over 10m in height the African Mahogany has been used as an attractive streetscape feature in Moranbah. While native to tropical Africa and Madagascar it will grow in most of Central Queensland soil types.

Kigelia pinnata or Sausage Tree is an unusual tree native to Central Africa that has one of the most attractive blooms of any shade tree. The velvety, crimson coloured flowers trail like Wisteria flowers, but it is the fruit that makes this tree stand out. The sausage-shaped fruit can be over 30cm long and more than 10cm across. It is a beautiful dense shade tree that is not utilised enough in large gardens.

African Mahogany street trees in Moranbah.
African Mahogany street trees in Moranbah. Contributed

Nauclea orientalis or Leichhardt Tree is a symmetrical shaped tree with large, oval, light green foliage in a native to many of Rockhampton's waterways. The flowers on this tree are quite showy, as they resemble yellow pom-poms. Nauclea has a dense canopy.

Samanea saman or Rain Tree would be one of the most beautiful shade trees. The best example of the tree that I have seen in planted in East St, adjacent to the old Commonwealth Bank. It has a broad canopy and attractive pink pom-pom flowers in clusters, this is a tree that will give respite from the summer heat.

Schotia brachypetala or Parrot Tree will attract large quantities of bird life when laden with its spectacular red-coloured flowers. This native of South Africa has been grown in Rockhampton for many years, and plantings such as those in Berserker show the spreading crown can provide relief from the heat.

Tipuana tipu or Racehorse Tree or Pride of Bolivia is a fast-growing, shade tree with masses of bright yellow flowers during the warm months of the year. This is a hardy and adaptable tree growing up to 10m in most soils and is drought and frost tolerant. Tipuana has a round crown and large extending canopy cover make it an excellent shade tree.

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