THE holiday season is upon us and it’s time to put up the good old Christmas tree and adorn it with ornaments.
Many of us pull out a plastic tree from a dusty old box in the shed that resembles an exotic conifer. However, this year could be your chance to go with a living native tree.
There are many excellent Australian native alternatives that resemble the plastic Christmas tree. Arguably the best is the Daintree pine (Gymnostoma australianum).
This living fossil’s ancestors would have seen the passing of the dinosaurs. Fossil records show the Daintree pine has been around for about 50 million years – since the time of Gondwana.
Today it is found in only a handful of small sites in the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park.
The Daintree pine is not actually a pine at all but a primitive member of the Casuarina (or she-oak) family.
The female flowers are red to pink and are followed by fruits resembling Casuarina cones. It is a very attractive bushy plant that maintains a lovely conical shape, which provides great habitat for small nesting birds.
In the ground it grows to 3-6m high and 2m wide and prefers full sun to semi-shade in a well-drained situation.
Other great native species to consider are kauri pine, bunya pine, hoop pine, plum pine, Bribie Island pine or even one of our local Casuarina species.
The great thing about all of these plants is they are long lived in pots. And if you have room in your garden, you can plant them out when they become too big for the pot to provide habitat and food for native wildlife.
If you would like to try a living Aussie Christmas tree this year, drop in and see the team at Forest Heart Eco Nursery in Coral Street Maleny.