- Evergreen tree.
- Size: up to 35 m high, but much smaller when grown in gardens where it reaches a height of only about 10 m, with a width of about 5 m.
- Leaves: dark glossy green and paler underneath, they can be oval-shaped, lobed or have wavy edges. They are usually 15 – 25 cm long (but can be up to 45 cm long) and 2 – 5 cm wide, and are generally smaller on exposed branches. There is one distinct vein running down the centre of each leaf.
- Flowers: bright red with a yellow tip, and 2.5 – 4 cm long. They cluster in a wheel-like arrangement at the end of a stalk. The cluster can be up to 10 cm in diameter and consists of 6 to 20 flowers.
- Fruit/seed: a grey-brown seed pod which is 5 – 10 cm long and has short hairs. The seeds inside are 2.5 – 3.5 cm long.
What to Observe
- First fully open single flower
- Full flowering (record all days)
- End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)
- Open seed pods (record all days)
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
We expect plants to start shooting and flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas, as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.
When To Look
- From December through to June
- Flowers appear in summer through to early winter (some odd flowers may appear at other times after high rainfall and humidity)
- Seed pods appear after flowering
Where To Look
- It is naturally found from north-eastern New South Wales (north of the Nambucca River) to north Queensland. However, it is adaptable to a range of climates if given adequate water and is planted outside these regions.
- In tropical or sub-tropical rainforests or open areas along the coast and inland mountain ranges, including urban areas.
- Look in parks, gardens and along streets.
Australian Biological Resources Study 1995. Flora of Australia Volume 16. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study.
Australian Biological Resources Study 2000. Flora of Australia Volume 17A. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study.
Australian Biological Resources Study 1999. Flora of Australia Volume 17B. CSIRO Publishing / Australian Biological Resources Study.
Walther G, Post E, Convey P, Menzel A, Parmesan C, Beebee TJC, Fromentin J, Hoegh-Guldberg O, and Bairlein F 2002. Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389–395.
- Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius): has bell-shaped flowers that don’t form a wheel-like arrangement.
- Poinciana (Delonix regia): has feathery and fern-like leaves, larger flowers (8 – 15 cm in diameter) with five petals (each 4 – 7 cm long), and larger seed pods (20 – 70 cm long).
Did You Know?
The shape of its leaves are quite variable, like many species from the Proteaceae family of plants.
Its genus name Stenocarpus means narrow fruit, referring to its seed pods; and its species name sinuatus means wavy, referring to the edges of the leaves.
There are 30 species of plants in the genus Stenocarpus, of which about seven are native to Australia.
When grown from seed, the Firewheel Tree can take seven years or more to flower, but a cutting from a mature plant will usually flower within three to four years.