2 Dec 2012

Our native Christmas tree

One of the problems with having a blog about home, life and family, is that the same things tend to come along to attract my attention at the same time each year. In early spring it's the daffodils. Later comes the roses. In late November, just when we're thinking of trimming the tree, I'm drawn to the beauty of the Silky Oak as it blooms just beside our back deck. Each year I'm struck by the fact that God's tree decoration is so much more beautiful that man's, and each year I tell you so.

We were warned by folk when we moved into our peaceful home that the Silky Oak was a 'dirty tree', most unsuited for situating beside a pool. They were right, of course; this is not a tree that you would plant beside a deck and pool area, but who in their right mind would chop down a sixty foot tall tree as beautiful as this?

The trees are amongst the few deciduous Australian natives, shedding all their old leaves just before the new ones appear. The flowers follow in quick succession. It seem, in fact, that we have only just finished clearing up the leaves from deck, pool and courtyard, that we are having to clear the same areas for dropped blossoms...and worse, brown, sticky nectar. Dirty tree indeed.

The nectar is actually quite interesting. You can see it in the photo below as the black spots between the hundreds of small flowers that make up each flower head. (The long sticky up things are the styles, the female parts of the individual flowers. Each has a sticky little green knob at the end, the stigma. Pollen sticks to the stigma and is passed to the ovary, which you can see as a little green swelling at the bottom of the style, just above the tiny flower petals. In this pic, they're the light brownish bits.)

I digress. The nectar. You won't be surprised to learn that it is sweet. Tasty too. The Aborigines used to make a sweet drink from the nectar by immersing whole flower heads in water. We always mean to try it, but each year the hot weather dries it our before we've got around to it. Instead, we just lick it off our fingers. Yum.

The silky oak would make a wonderful nature study topic. Its funny flowers are easy to draw, and you could trace the changes daily. Maybe next year we'll do this as well as try the Aboriginal drink.

This year, though, we're just enjoying our beautiful native Christmas tree in all her glory. You'll agree she is just divine just where she is. Outside the kitchen and over the pool. That's what we have pool filters for, after all is said and done.

Tonight we're trimming our inside tree. It's a plastic blue spruce. It's funny, isn't it, that we Aussies are so traditional when it comes to Christmas. I wonder what a plastic Silky Oak would sell like. It'd certainly mean some alterations to the traditional colour scheme!


  1. We have a silky oak that is currently loosing leaves but it hasn't ever flowered from my memory. Ours is twice the height of the house so not a young tree. Yours has a beautiful bloom and certainly very impressive.

  2. Beautiful and enjoyable post, thank you Jeanne! She is a splendid tree, a real beauty! I would LOVE to try the drink one day too. :)

  3. thanks for the nature study post:) that tree is amazing! we are not blessed with the silky oak around these parts unfortunately.

  4. i love this post. i think it's because we're in the same hemisphere and it is some help to me to think that you too are used to a warm christmas and that i am not the only one in the world. ;) obviously, i'm not, but with most of my contacts in the northern hemisphere, sometimes i feel a bit sad about the difference for some reason. it won't make sense to you most likely, so this is turning out to be quite a rambly comment i suppose ;) so, i shall end it shortly.

    but i also loved to see your tree close up and personal like. it's not one i'd seen before. such a lovely. :)


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