Slender tree suitable for small gardens

Hymenosporum flavum flowers at the Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Hymenosporum flavum flowers at the Dunedin Botanic Garden. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Native of Australia and New South Wales in particular, Hymenosporum flavum is often called the Australian frangipani.

While not related to the frangipani genus Plumeria, the reference to frangipani comes from the resemblance found in the bright, sweetly scented yellow blooms.

This monotypic genus is closely related to the genus Pittosporum, with similarities seen in the foliage. 

H. flavum is a fast-growing tree with slender branches that typically radiate out from the main trunk, forming a distinctive pyramidal shape.  Blooming from mid-spring into summer, this evergreen tree puts on a magnificent show of strongly scented tubular flowers.

The hermaphroditic flower, first functionally male, opens as a soft cream colour. As the flower ages and the stigma develops, the colour deepens into a strong yellow.

The mixed display of yellow and cream flowers stands out beautifully against the tree’s glossy dark green foliage.

The seed pods add another layer of interest to this tree species. The hard brown capsules are filled with layers upon layers of light paper-thin seeds.

This tree can easily suit even small-sized gardens due to its upright, slender structure.

In cultivation, a height of up to 10m can be reached. H. flavum is hardy once established, tolerant of dry areas and wind.

The best display of blooms appears when planted in a sunny position, although it can be grown in shadier areas.

See Hymenosporum flavum flowering in the upper garden within the Australian collection.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Kyla Mathewson