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The Firewheel Tree is among Australia’s prettiest foliage and flowering native trees. Spectacular flowers are bright red in umbels, in a circular formation, hence the name Firewheel Tree. Each “spoke” in the flower wheel has a swollen yellow tip where the floral organs are. The plant’s scientific name Stenocarpus Sinuatus means from Greek stenos, narrow, and carpos, a fruit, a reference to the characteristics of the seed capsules, and sinuatus from Latin is wavy, a reference to the margins of the leaves.
The glossy, deeply lobed leaves, which may be quite variable among trees, make a beautiful backdrop to the fiery crimson flower clusters. There may be a off-putting floral fragrance at night in the effort to attract the moth pollinators. Later, the flowers develop into narrow, leather, boat-shaped fruits that shed numerous winged seeds. Although flowering time is in the warmth of summer and autumn, sporadic blooming may occur at other times of year.
Despite its sub-tropical to tropical origin, Stenocarpus sinuatus is adaptable to a range of climates and will even succeed in dry climates if additional water is available.
Common names: Firewheel Tree, White Beefwood, Queensland Firewheel Tree, Tulip Flower, White Oak and White Silky Oak.
Native: Australia. Rainforests of north-eastern New South Wales and eastern Queensland. Also occurs in Papua New Guinea.
Plant type: Trees. Tropicals. Tender Perennials. Evergreen.
Hardiness: USDA 10 – 13
Light: Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
Soil: Acidic, Neutral, Loam, Sand.
Moisture: Average Water. Well Drained. Drought-tolerant.
Flowering period: Summer, Early Fall
Flower Color: Yellow, Crimson, Orange Red
Repeat Bloomer: Yes
Height: 91 – 230 cm (30 – 75 in) (in nature can grow up to 30 metres but it is usually smaller in cultivation)
Spread: 46 – 76 cm (15 – 25 in)
Time to plant: Spring
Propagation: From cuttings (will take approx 3-4 years to flower), from seeds (will take approx 7 years to flower).
Uses: Ornamental Plant, Shade Trees, Street Trees, Tropical
Fertilizer: Avoid applying fertilizers rich in phosphorous or containing high amounts of nitrates.
Has Thorns: No
Toxity: Tell us if you know
Tips: Mulch during dry weather and fertilize with slow release fertilizer in spring. Protect from wind and frost when young. Older plants survive with foliage dieback. The Firewheel Tree is slow to recover from winter cold damage. Keep in mind that this is a slow growing tree. It is moderately drought tolerant but responds well to irrigation in the heat of summer. This species is also highly sensitive to herbicides.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stenocarpus_sinuatus http://anpsa.org.au/s-sin.html
Cover photo by Russell Cumming
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Safety notes: This website is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice, and please check with your doctor before using plants if you are pregnant, using medications or have other health conditions.