Frequently Asked Questions

18. Are there any deciduous native trees?

Yes there are but comparatively few compared with the northern hemisphere. The majority are found in the tropical north of the continent. It may come as a surprise for those familiar with the forests of southern Australia to learn that many eucalypts of the tropical north are deciduous although not in winter and only for a short period before the wet season.

The two best known deciduous Australian species are the red cedar (Toona ciliata) and the white cedar (Melia azedarach). Both of these occur in subtropical rainforests of Queensland and New South Wales and are popular in cultivation. In Tasmania the deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii) can be found.

Some Australian trees can be partly deciduous in that they may lose foliage on a half or more of the tree just prior to flowering while retaining it on the other half. The Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) is the best known example of this and it can sometimes be observed on the silky oak (Grevillea robusta).

Melia azedarach    Brachychiton acerifolius
Left: Melia azedarach in leafless mode. Right: Brachychiton acerifolius, leafless but in full flower. Photos: Melia azedarach from Wikimedia Commons by Forrest and Kim Starr, reproduced under the Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Brachychiton acerifolius by Alfred Guhl

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