There are approximately 30 species in the genus Stenocarpus. Most are found in New Caledonia and there are about 7 species native to Australia. S.sinuatus is the best known species as it is widely cultivated both in Australia and overseas.
The firewheel tree takes its name from the configuration and colour of the inflorescences in which the small flowers have a wheel-like arrangement. It is one of Australia’s most spectacular trees. S.sinuatus occurs in nature as a tree to about 30 metres but it is usually smaller in cultivation, particularly in cooler areas. The dark, glossy green leaves may be entire or lobed and up to 450 mm long. The conspicuous flower clusters are seen in summer through to autumn.
Despite its sub-tropical to tropical origin, S.sinuatus is adaptable to a range of climates and will even succeed in dry climates if additional water is available. It prefers fairly rich, loamy soils but is tolerant of most well drained soils. It may be grown in a sunny or partly shaded location.
Firewheel tree can be grown readily from either seed or cuttings. Plants grown from seed may take 7 years or more to flower. Cutting-grown plants propagated from mature flowering plants will usually flower in 3-4 years.
Photo: Brian Walters