A Small Tree with Big impact

Buckinghamia celcissima, Ivory Curl Flower or Ivory Curl Tree

If you are looking for a lovely small evergreen tree for the garden then take a look at the Ivory Curl Flower, Buckinghamia celcissima.

Stunning when it is flowering and at other times a useful green screen this native of the Queensland rainforest can be seen growing as a street tree in Sydney even in areas where there are light frosts. This demonstrates its hardiness and adaptability. However, it is not successful in the heavy frosts of Canberra. Although growing to a tall tree in its native habitat, when planted out in the open it rarely reaches 8m in height. In Melbourne it only grows to a large shrub.

The Ivory Curl Tree’s glorious flowers which appear in late summer make an eye-catching focal point. A member of the Proteacea family, its large flower spikes are up to 20cm long and are covered in scores of individual creamy white curling flowers which gives the tree a cloud-like appearance from a distance. A good garden has interest at all times of the year not just in spring and to have a tree with such spectacular flowers in late summer is a great bonus. So many gardens are filled with flowers in spring and then during the rest of the year nothing of special note can be seen.

The Buckinghamia leaves cover the tree densely from the ground up if the tree is planted in the open, this thick foliage making it a useful screening tree. The large dark glossy green leaves are lanceolate-shaped in the adult form with an entire margin. The juvenile leaves are often lobed which adds interest in young plants while the bronze-coloured new growth adds a lovely contrast to the green of the mature leaves. It suits most soils and prefers a sunny position.

The only negative appears to be a leaf miner pest which occasionally attacks the leaves of the ivory curl tree in my Sydney garden.

The fabulous Ivory Curl Tree is an Australian plant worth growing in any garden.

Anne Smith
Assoc Dip Landscape Design, MHMA