Plant of the Month — February 2005

Corymbia calophylla (Lindl.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson — Marri

Find out more about Corymbia calophylla (Lindl.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson

Fully grown, Corymbia calophylla or Marri, is a tree of majesty, able to attain a height of 60 metres. Its bark is rough and tessellated and its cream to pink flowers appear from December to May, with most abundant flowering during February. Driving along Old Coast Road to Margaret River in the middle of summer, the flowers are so prolific that were it not for the temperature, tourists could be forgiven for thinking that snow had fallen. Some specimens, left alone in paddocks after clearing and without competition, can attain the characteristic shape of an oak, these trees depicted sometimes in old paintings of the South West.

Corymbia calophylla is a member of the Myrtaceae family and its range extends over the south-west of Western Australia, with two isolated populations in the north, one at Geraldton and one in the area of Mt. Lesueur. It is known for its large fruits or “honky nuts”, and was made famous by May Gibbs, author of the famous children’s classic, “Snugglepot and Cuddlepie”, the blossoms being the “gumnut babies” of the story.

Grown easily from seed or available from most plant nurseries, it is a tree of large areas and needs space. The Marri is host to a great array of insects and is almost an ecosystem within itself; its sap being much favoured by Aboriginal people as a medicine, a fire starter and a glue. As ABC weatherman, conservationist and gardener, John Colwill, once remarked, “if you have a Marri, you have it all”.

Photo: S.D. Hopper

Find out more about Corymbia calophylla (Lindl.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson

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