What's flowering now

Experience the magnificent colours and fragrances of blooming beauties and sensational seeds and fruits on show in our Gardens now.


Backhousia citriodora - Lemon Scented Myrtle

This is a most useful plant to grow in your backyard! The Lemon Scented Myrtle is an east coast native, found in the Mackay & the Whitsunday region predominantly on offshore islands. The leaves exude a rich, lemon fragrance when crushed and can be dried and used for cooking – sprinkled on for lemon flavour, steeped in oil or simply added to boiling water to make a refreshing tea.

When in full flower, bees and honey-eaters will flock to the cream coloured summer blooms.

They smell deliciously like sweet honey and nectar, covering part of, or the entire plant.

Lemon Scented Myrtle prefers partial shade when young but will flower better in full sun and can be kept pruned as a compact shrub. It’s excellent as a semi-formal hedge, as an individual garden specimen or let grow to its full height as a large shrub - still suitable for small backyards.

Plant it in rich soil with plenty of mulch to keep up a steady supply of moisture.

You can see Lemon Scented Myrtle in flower now near the Bus Bay, Malta Garden & the Regional Flora Terraces of the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Brachychiton acerifolius - Flame Tree

This stunning tree puts on a spring and summer show of vivid red flowers and bracts. The flowers may appear on a tree that is leafless, partially leaved or in full leaf - based on the amount of winter and spring rain received. The smooth bark, maple-like leaves and attractive pyramid shape makes this tree an attractive backyard or footpath specimen even when not in flower.

The Flame Tree is found naturally down the east coast into NSW.

The tree can handle almost all weather conditions of mainland Australia except prolonged winter cold and snow. Flame trees can be seen next to the Brigalow Garden, near the Turf Trial Plots and along the lagoon edge near the Japan Garden in the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Commersonia bartramia – Brown Kurrajong

Often called “Snow in Summer” this delightful small tree is fast growing and suitable for the average backyard.

A feature of this tree is the mass of creamy flowers borne from December to March, followed by chestnut-like spiky seed capsules. Sporadic flowering also occurs most of the year.

Usually found along creek lines, Brown Kurrajong prefers a moist position in full sun or partial shade.

Renowned for speedy growth, it’s not unusual for these trees to grow several metres in their first year.

They will usually only grow to 10 metres full height. Use this tree to obtain an almost instant canopy or windbreak – but due to their fast growth, these trees are often ‘at their best’ for the first 10 years of their life.

You’ll find the Brown Kurrajong in many sections of the gardens including the Tropical Shade Garden, Finch Hatton Gorge Waterway Garden, Buffer Forest & Regional Forest Gardens of the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Just like Christmas decorations in the shops, the Christmas Orchid is on show too! and it is Sun Smart!

If you look very closely at the individual flowers of the Christmas orchid you can see a small child with legs and arms, a cute little face - all under a very big sun hat.

Come and see them flowering now in the Tropical Shade Garden of the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

The Christmas Orchid Calanthe australasica is an evergreen terrestrial orchid.

It has soft, obovate leaves which grow to 90cm with showy white flowers borne on erect spikes to 150cm in summer.

They are commonly seen locally at Eungella, especially on the Wishing Pool Circuit, near Crediton Hall.  Come and see it growing at the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Distribution: QLD, NSW, South-east Asia.
Propagation: From seed or by division.
Cultivation: Readily grown in heavily shaded, moist but not badly drained position in sheltered, warm garden, the Christmas Orchid is an excellent pot plant.

Phaius australis
prev. Phaius tankervilleae
Swamp Orchid

This is a spectacular clumping ground orchid that has long 'pleated' dark green leaves that arise from partly buried egg-shaped pseudo-bulbs.

It can be up to 2m tall when in flower with up to 12 showy orchid flowers borne on the upper part of the cane-like stems. The flowers that can be up to 100mm in diameter are probably the largest of the Australian orchids. Flowers in September.

It was once widespread in eastern Australia, growing in swamps with grasses and sedges in the open or in open forests; however it is now Endangered in the wild.

Dendrobium discolour
Golden Orchid

The name is from the Greek dendron (meaning tree) and bios (meaning life).

The species are either epiphytic, growing on a tree, or occasionally lithophytic, growing over a rock. They have adapted to a wide variety of habitats.

The orchids in this genus often develop pseudobulbs, which unite into a long reed-like stem with a typical length of more than 30 cm.
Short, ovate leaves grow alternately over the whole length of the stems.
The axillary flower buds develop into short flower stalks with one or two terminal flowers. The orchids grow quickly throughout summer, but take a long rest during winter. In the spring, new shoots are formed from the base of the main plant and the dormant buds come back into action. The blooming flowers are found on pseudo-bulbs formed in the previous year.

Cymbidium canaliculatum
Queensland Black Orchid

The Queensland Black Orchid is a large epiphytic orchid from warm parts of Australia often growing in tree forks or hollows.

Flowers are produced in large clusters or racemes that grow to about 40 cm long from September to October. Individual flowers are star shaped and about 4 cm across. The flower is variable from pale with reddish brown spots to almost black. The labellum is usually pale with reddish brown markings.

The long narrow leaves are channelled and grow to about 60 cm long. The pseudo-bulbs are about 10 cm long and greenish or grey green, with about two to six leaves growing from each pseudo-bulb.

You can see this orchid in the centre of the Tropical Shade Garden, high up on one of the five wharf logs. Don't miss it  as it only blooms this month.


Xerochrysum bracteatum
Golden Everlasting Daisy

Add a little everlasting sunshine to your garden...
These very popular plants bring long-lasting colour and warmth into the garden. There are many everlasting daisies available in nurseries with flowers varying from white through cream, lemon, canary yellow, gold and bronze.

This Everlasting Daisy has an erect habit and grows to around 1m in height. It has weak hollow stems and thin green leaves. Flowers occur from autumn to early summer and the plant will keep producing flowers particularly if spent flowers are continually removed. Butterflies and other insects love them and will flock to your garden adding another area of interest.

As seeds disperse, wild sown plants add a touch of surprise to your garden.
They are also excellent as dried flowers, keeping their shape and colour for years - just hang a bunch up-side-down in a dark airy place and let them dry for a few weeks.

Syzygium wilsonii subsp. wilsonii
Powderpuff Lilly-Pilly

An attractive beauty, showing off flowers and new growth in the Tropical Shade Garden.

Syzygium wilsonii subsp. wilsonii belongs to the genus of Syzygium (family Myrtaceae) containing over five hundred species, fifty occurring in Australia. Also known as the Powderpuff Lillypilly, it is perhaps one of the most attractive and versatile of the "Lillypillies", though still somewhat unknown and under-used in horticulture. The lillypillies are one of the most sought after horticultural plant groups for landscaping and gardens.

This species is endemic to the far north Queensland rainforests, from Ingham to Cooktown, in lowland rainforests from sea level to 600-700m, growing in relatively poor soils. This species can be easily incorporated into any patio, courtyard or rainforest garden.

It is a small shrub 1-3 m tall with extremely attractive flowers and foliage with clusters of edible fruit that attracts wildlife. It has weeping branches with lanceolate reddish brown new foliage. Stiff narrow leaves to 18 cm x 5 cm, dark green and dull on upper surface and paler on underneath side of leaf. This species is the only one of the lillypillies to have red flowers. They have large, fluffy heads and flower from spring to summer.

White clusters of ovoid shaped fleshy fruits. The fleshy fruits can be easily propagated from the seed once fleshy fruit has been removed.

Plant out in a shaded or sheltered position away from drying winds and full sun. It can also be used as a specimen shrub in a raised garden bed or against a wall. Keep the plant well mulched and composted, it's also responds well to regular fertilizing encouraging new growth. This species responds well to regular tip pruning increasing the number of flowers produced.

To increase the impact of the plant try to incorporate with other species suck as palm lilies, native gingers, ground covers and ornamental grasses. This will help create a structured garden with differing layers of height. This species can also be used as an under-storey plant for a more established rainforest garden. This species is a particularly attractive potted plant making it accessible for people with smaller gardens and courtyards. The flowers can be used to attract wildlife such as birds and honeyeaters.

This species is an excellent ornamental plant for a garden with its showy red puffy flowers, reddish brown new foliage and clusters of white fruits.

Reference: Text by Chris McCarthy, Australian National Botanic Gardens - growing, studying and promoting Australia's flora.

Flowering and fruiting throughout the year

Morinda citrifolia - Cheese Fruit

The Cheese Fruit Tree is always found growing close to the coastline in tropical areas. It looks more like a bush than a tree with low set large broad glossy green leaves. The flowers are small, white and sweet scented. The fruit is elongated in shape with irregular depressions on the outer surface. The fruit turns from green to whitish-yellow when fully ripe. The fruit is unmistakable, with translucent flesh, many brown - bluish seeds and a powerful aroma similar to rancid cheese when very ripe. It is best eaten when two thirds ripe. The fruit is produced throughout the year. It can be eaten raw or cooked and the young leaves are also edible.
The tree is also referred to as the Noni or the Native Custard Apple.

Cheese fruit trees can be found in the Tropical Shade Garden of the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens and along the lagoon paths near the Heritage Gardens and approaching the Eulamere Boardwalk entrance.


Cordyline manners-suttoniae - Giant Palm Lily

I'm a palm lily native to coastal Queensland, where I'm found in rainforests, often in swampy situations.
In spring or summer, I produce an attractive panicle of white flowers, followed by cascades of bright berries which transform in colour from green, yellowish green, sometime pinkish to red.

You can find specimens of this plant in the Tropical Shade Garden of the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens and next to the path to the left of the welcome sign at the main entrance adjacent to the carpark. At the moment you can see displays of the flowers and the berries at the same time. A glorious sight.

Orchid House

Mackay Regional Council Queens Park houses the 'Ken Burgess Display House' commonly called the Orchid House.

This fabulous  collection of orchids is situated in Queens Park in East Mackay, not at the Botanic Gardens which is in West Mackay. Admission is free and well worth a look.