Weird and wonderful plants of South Bank
South Bank Parklands is famous for palm trees, our stunning bougainvillea arbour and our green, green grass. But did you know, South Bank is also home to some more unusual flowers, fruits and plants too?
Co-habitating nonchalantly in amongst the other greenery, you can spot rare trees, once thought to be extinct and exotic bananas, that taste the way mother nature intended.
Here’s a quick guide to the wonderful species on display in South Bank, for the phytophilia in us all (plant lover).
A stunning wall of white flowers with a fragrance a little like pineapple will greet you at Rainforest Green when the Scented Daphne is in full flower. The phaleria clerodendron is unusual because the tube-shaped flowers grow directly on the trunk of the tree as well as the branches. The flowering is followed by a crop of juicy red fruits, hence it’s other common name, Rosy Apple. A delicacy for cassowaries in tropical areas, we don’t recommend picking one for a human snack.
Blue Java Bananas
It’s a banana, but not as you know it! Known in Hawaii as the Ice Cream Banana, Blue Java bananas boast a beautifully blue-silver coloured skin until the fruit ripens into the traditional yellow. The taste of a Blue Java is quite different to a ‘modern’ Cavendish or ladyfinger banana grown commercially, and bought at the local fruit market. Best served with ice-cream and some local honey. Keep your eyes peeled on the Epicurious Harvest cart around Autumn for your chance to pick up some of these beauties!
Fossil specimens dating back more than 200 million years ago mean the Wollemi Pine is tree was once dinosaur food; but now it’s a protected species and South Bank is proud to be caring for a Wollemi in the gardens around Rainforest Green. Shaped like a tropical Christmas Tree, the Wollemi Pine is in good company, with its close pre-historic cousins the Hoop Pine and Bunya Pine, growing near the Piazza.
The stout and proud Queensland Bottle Tree is named for its portly trunk, which swells with water. Indigenous Australians and animals would carve or scratch holes in the tree trunk to access water and eat the roots of young trees. The stringy, fibrous bark was also used for making nets. South Bank’s Bottle Trees are located on either side of the Confucius statue at the Epicurious Garden.
St Helena Olive Tree – Epicurious Garden
Proof that Queensland’s climate is good for growing olives, there is a heritage St Helena olive bush in the Epicurious Garden. St Helena Island in Moreton Bay was a penal settlement with a commercial grove of olive trees in the early 1900's. Prisoners had to grow their own food and sell produce to purchase goods and equipment. One of their most popular products was locally grown and processed olive oil, being exported directly to Italy. Maybe we’ll be able to bottle our own Regional Flavours olive oil one day!