Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld
Hundreds of tree species could potentially be grown in Queensland, but a great many would not be practical in urban environments and/or are not readily available on the commercial market.
The following selected genera contain some of the more popular tree species for ornamental purposes in Qld. Follow the links for more information. Please note, however, that many species referred to on these pages will nevertheless be unsuitable for small gardens, so please do your research before planting. (See also Shrubs because some larger shrub species can be trained as small trees).
Trees suitable for suburban gardens in the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate (frost free) parts of Australia are among the plants covered in Get Results Gardening. If live in those zones, why not ask for a free trial? Go to calyx.com.au/getresultsgardening.html (or click on the banner below) for more information.
Sometimes, the sizes quoted in various publications reflect ultimate size in their natural habitat. They may reach for the sky in a densely crowded rainforest, while in a more open garden situation, the same tree is likely to be shorter but with a fuller canopy. Other variables are time (it may take decades to reach that size) and local conditions (climate, soil water), which will affect the vigour of any plant.
A mistake that many people make is planting something too vigorous and ultimately too large because they're impatient, typically for privacy reasons. The downside is that such species may present maintenance problems down the track, needing frequent pruning to keep them within bounds and maybe even creating root problems. By sticking to tree species that are relatively small even when mature, they shouldn't be too much of a problem even if neglected.
Where to buy trees and tree services
You're likely to find a selection of trees suitable for your area in your local garden centres.
Some nurseries specialise in particular categories of plants (e.g. fruit trees, frangipani, palms, etc). These are good places to look for less commonly cultivated varities. Follow the links on the Plants page to see if there is a specialist nursery listed in your category of interest.
If you specifically want to buy trees in large container sizes for instant landscapes, try the nurseries listed on the Advanced Plants page. Some specialists may also carry advanced stock.
If you need large quantities of tubestock for farm forestry or revegetation projects, you may need to identify a wholesale grower or similar. Try local agricultural and forestry research stations or environmental organisations for suitable contacts (some links here: Australian Natives Links)
Looking for someone to prune a tree or to assess or treat a tree problem? Go to Arborists and Tree-related Services
A Prescription for Street Trees
Consistent with growing evidence of the therapeutic effects of a vegetated urban environment, analysis of the population in Leipzig, Germany has shown that streets trees can improve mental health. Researchers used the number of prescriptions for antidepressant medication in different parts of the city as the gauge. They found that a high number trees within 100 metres of the home made a difference, particularly among socio-economically disadvantaged groups. These are also the ones most at risk, so planting of more street trees could help address inequalities in this aspect of health. The species or diversity of the trees did not make a difference in this study, nor did the number of trees more than 100 metres away from home. Source: Street trees close to the home may reduce the risk of depression (January 2021)
Not everyone loves street trees
Between 2011 and 2014, nearly a quarter of eligible residents in Detroit (USA) submitted no-tree requests and researchers decided to find out why. Economic problems resulted in big cuts to the city's maintenance budget. The large numbers of dead and hazardous trees consequently left untended contributed to urban blight. This made residents wary of new trees and the authorities planting them. Residents feared they would be left with responsibility for caring for trees and wanted a greater say in which trees were planted. Education, choice and communication were seen as a way forward. Read more: Why People Reject City Trees, University of Vermont (January, 2019)
Ipswich preserves an original resident
Ipswich City Council has preserved a huge Eucalyptus tereticornis (Queensland Blue Gum or Forest Red Gum) by during an upgrade to Riverside Drive at Pine Mountain. A low pressure sucker vac was used to locate the root plate of the 35 metre high tree, allowing a concrete floodway to be modified to avoid damage. Council has undertaken to maintain the specimen, an original tree of the area which managed to escape the timber industry. Source: Health of 'pioneer' Blue Gum a priority during roadworks (December 2017)
The anti-aging effects of trees
A Toronto-based analysis of urban greenspace and health indicates that having 11 more trees in a city block decreases cardio-metabolic conditions equivalent to an increase in personal income or being 1.4 years younger. Just 10 trees produces a self-reported increase in health perception equivalent to being 7 years younger. Source: Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center (July 2015)
For healthier people, plant trees
A US study has estimated that trees save the lives of more than 850 Americans and prevent some 670,000 acute respiratory incidences per year by removing air pollution. These positive health effects were valued at nearly $7 billion annually. Source: First national study finds trees saving lives, reducing respiratory problems: Air pollution modeling reveals broad-scale impacts of pollution removal by trees (July 2014)
Trees save lives
Analysis of tree populations, air pollution data and human health and population statistics of several American cities has estimated that the beneficial effects of fine particulate matter removal by urban forests saves around one life per city per year. Source: Forest Service Study Finds Urban Trees Removing Fine Particulate Air Pollution, Saving Lives (June 2013)
More shade for Brisbane pathways
Brisbane City Council has declared that its footpaths and cycleways will be cooler and greener in the future as a result of its Neighbourhood Shadeways initiative. The aim is to increase the city's street tree population by 35000 by 2026, taking shading along residential footpaths and cycle ways to 50% from a current 35%. A range of native shade tree species will be used. Council is encouraging residents to let them know where they would like more trees planted More information: Lord Mayor's growing plan to shade Brisbane streets (October 2012)
New woody weed control developed in Qld
A new biocontrol agent developed by the University of Queensland could mean a simple and safe way to control woody weeds. Developed from fungi which already occur in the Australian environment, the treatment is delivered as a capsule inserted into the trunk of the tree. In addition to killing the inoculated tree, the fungi could persist to kill seedlings that subsequently emerge in the area, or even untreated mature trees nearby. Commercialisation of the "bioherbicide" for control of Parkinsonia is underway, but it has the potential to control many types of other woody weeds. More information at the University of Queensland website: Australia's first bioherbicide approaching release (August 2012)
Toowoomba tree plan takes trophy
The Toowoomba Street Tree Master Plan has won the Sustainable Initiatives Category in the national Parks and Leisure Australia Awards of Excellence A bloomin' great effort bags national awards (September 2012)
Tree replacement won't let poisoners win
It has been confirmed that a dead Casuarina glauca on the Golden Beach foreshore was poisoned. Unfortunately, it will have to be removed. Sunshine Coast Council will promptly replaced it by a new specimen of the same species, with a high level of protection and monitoring during its establishment. Anyone convicted of poisoning a tree could face very heavy fines. Source: Calling for community support in protection of tree (August 2012)Urban trees' filtering effects examined
Research estimates that urban trees in the Greater London Authority area remove between 850 and 2000 tonnes of particulate pollution from the air every year. There are plans to increase tree planting in London and the rest of the country, and the methodology used in the study could with help with species selection and location of planting with respect to this form of pollution and its asssociated human health effects. Source: New study shows how trees clean the air in London (October 2011)
Leaf venation a limit to growth
A study of fossil leaves suggest that an increase in the number of veins per unit area of leaf may have increased the efficiency of water movement through plants and made the first rainforest giants possible. Source: First rainforests arose when plants solved plumbing problem (May 2011)
Reprieve for Theebine trees
A plan to remove seven large trees to build a carpark at the school in Theebine (near Gympie) is to be modified after protests from the town's residents. A more modest design will be implemented at the small school. Source: Theebine's School Trees Saved (April 2011)
Planting guide for cyclone regions
Associate Professor Betsy Jackes has written a guide based on almost 40 years of observations to help residents of north Queensland and Darwin select and cultivate trees with safety in mind. No tree is totally cyclone-proof, but factors such as the leaf type, branching structure, type of root system, conditions at planting and subsequent pruning can also affect their performance in a cyclone. You can find the guide at the Jame Cook University website here: Choosing Plants for Areas Prone to Cyclones. (March 2011)
High-rise nitrogen fixation
A new significance for old-growth trees in some ecosystems has been discovered in North American coastal temperate rainforests. It was already known that cyanobacteria in mosses on the forest floor fixed nitrogen, but it was found that they were more abundant in mosses growing high in the canopy. As mosses take a long time to accumulate, nitrogen input into the system can be affected by the density of very old trees. (February, 2011)
Laws on neighbours' trees to receive update
A draft copy of new laws designed to make disputes over trees and fences easier to resolve has been released for community consultation. It's hoped that the new laws will be better suited to the 21st century, with people today living in such close proximity. The draft bill includes clarification of the responsibilitites of the tree's owner. Read more at the Qld Govt website here: Neighbourhood disputes over trees and fences to be easier to resolve (May 2010)
Big Tree Database for Australia
Ever wondered how big the largest specimen of a tree species is, or where it's located? A National Register of Big Trees is now being established to collect such information for Australia. Members of the public will be able to nominate native or exotic trees of significance in parks and gardens as well as natural habitats. Learn more at the website: National Register of Big Trees
Tree of Kowledge goes to university
One 25 plants propagated from Barcaldine's "Tree of Knowledge" after it's 2006 poisoning has been donated to the University of Queensland and has found a home at the St Lucia campus. Source: Knowledge planted at UQ (November 2009)
Can trees reduce your electricity bills?
A study of homes in Sacramento, California have shown that well-positioned shade trees can reduce summer electricity use by 5 percent, but unsuitable placement can actually increase it. Further studies in other cities of the world, and in wintertime, are needed to see how trees affect electricity use across geographic locality and season. However, urban trees have potential to reduce atmospheric carbon both by reducing electricity demand and incorporating of carbon in their wood as they grow. Source: New Study: Home Energy Savings Are Made in the Shade (May 2009)
Dead tree still has a role to play in Townsville landscape
After assessment by an arborist, an old gum in Pioneer Park, Townsville has been judged beyond help and a significant risk to public safety. The good news for residents and wildlife is that after cutting back of branches and poisoning (to prevent regrowth), the trunk will be retained as a nesting site. A replacement shade tree will also be planted nearby. Read more: Council to manage declining gum tree (2008)
Caloundra Tree Poisonings
Two trees in Bulcock St and five in Happy valley have been poisoned. The apparently unrelated attacks were probably attempt to improve views. Caloundra City Council is urging anyone with information to contact them or the Police. Senseless vandalism destroys living heritage (March 2008)
One of Rocky's favourite trees collapses
An Enterolobium cyclocarpum that had been a feature of the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens for over 30 years has collapsed during heavy wind and rain. In spite of the unromantic common name of "Ear Tree" (due to the shape of the seedpods), the old tree was a popular site for weddings. Staff intend to plant another one soon. Meanwhile, anyone who has a booked a function at the Ear Tree should contact the Gardens. More information from the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens here: Botanic Gardens Icon Collapses ( January 2008)
More shade trees for Gold Coast
Unhappy with the amount of shade in the city, the Gold Coast City Council has reviewed its free plant scheme. Free shrubs and groundcovers are to be eliminated, but shade trees will continue to be offered. The planned Residential Tree Scheme and Street Tree Scheme are part of the Council's strategy to create Australia's "most attractive and shaded city". More information at the Council's website here: Free Tree Scheme to Green the City
Avenues of Honour
The Avenue of Honour Project 1915-2015 aims to document, preserve and restore trees planted to honour servicemen and women in the last century, in addition to planting new ones, in time for the Centenary of the Anzac in 2015. Many coummunity groups and government bodies (including Brisbane City Council - More information about their participation HERE) are collaborating with the RSL and TREENET on this project. If you have any information about memorial trees in your district, or you would just like to learn more about the project, visit the website: TREENET Avenues of Honour Project
Safetree: "powerline friendly approved"
A collaboration betweeen ENERGEX and Greening Australia, the Safetree program aims to encourage responsible planting under and near powerlines. This includes the powerline connected to your home.
To help homeowners select appropriate tree and shrub species, a list of over 100 "Safetrees" has been developed. "Safetrees" share the following characteristics:- suitable for south east Queensland
- grow less than 4 metres tall
- reasonably long lifespan
- low susceptibility to pests and diseases
- don't tend to shed material excessively
- not poisonous
- readily available
The list includes native and exotic species. Some are bird attracting. Others provide shade, flowers or fruit. You're sure to find something to suit your garden in the Safetree Planting Guide, which you can download from the ENERGEX site in PDF form: www.energex.com.au/pdf/network/planting_guide_LR.pdf
Alternatively, look for plants with Safetree tags and signage at participating garden centres.