Australian bottle tree arizona


All Our Bottle Trees are made in The USA, by Hand,
One at a time!

Your Tree will ship out right away! Ships out the same business day or the next business day! ALL orders are shipped PRIORITY Mail! Trees arrive within 2-4 business days!
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Please: to read ALL the reason’s to buy a Cubby’s Bottle Tree right now

You can order here or if you wish you can order on one of these other sites.

The Peacock Bottle Tree from Cubby’s

Six feet high AFTER it’s planted!

  • Comes in 3 pieces.
  • Unpainted Ready right out of the box for any crazy color you want to paint it!
  • FREE gifts included!
  • Bottles not included,But, Love, Pride and Good Karma are included in every box FREE!

The Peace Tree


  • Holds 12 Bottles
  • Unpainted so that you can paint your Peace tree any color you want or
    leave it natural to rust over time.
  • SIX feet high AFTER it’s planted.
  • Comes in two pieces
    FREE Gifts included
    Free Priority Shipping!
    Bottles Not Included
    But, Pride, Love and Good Karma are included in every box FREE!

The Dogwood Tree by Cubby’s


Holds 13 Bottles Comes in Two Pieces
Three FREE Gifts Included
Sandblasted and Painted Brown
FREE Priority Shipping! Bottles Not Included
But, Pride, Love and Good Karma is included FREE in every box!

The “Seagrass” Bottle Tree!


(We LOVE this bottle tree!)

Holds 13 Bottles!

Comes in two pieces.
We don’t paint this bottle tree because we feel it looks better “all natural”
Bottles not included but we include peace, Love and Good Karma in each box absolutely free!

The “Haint Chaser” Tree

$149.99 The Haint Chaser Bottle Tree holds 37 bottles!
(One of our personal favorites)
It stands SIX foot high AFTER it’s planted!
Comes in Two Pieces

Free Priority Shipping
Three Free Gifts included!
Bottles not included but we include peace, Love and Good Karma in each box absolutely free!

The “Mac Daddy” Tree


  • Holds 43 Bottles!
  • Comes in Two Pieces
  • Bottles not included
  • Bending pipe is included!
    • Free Gifts Included!
    • Sandblasted and Painted Brown

The “Little Runt Poppy”


An offspring from our regular size Poppy Bottle Tree, this little guy won’t ever grow up like his larger peers.

  • He’s almost 5 feet tall when you get it.
  • He’ll be about 4′ high after you plant it.
  • He holds 17 bottles.
    • Comes in one piece
  • Free Hanging Blue Bottle Gift and “No Evil Spirits” Sticker Included!
  • Bending pipe is included!
  • Free PRIORITY Shipping!
  • Bottles not included

Pictured are beer bottle size bottles but you can put any size that you want on this cutie.

The “Show Off” Bottle Tree


The name says it all! This tree thinks it’s bigger and better than all the other trees in the forest! It spreads itself out as if to say, “Look at Me”. SIX feet high AFTER it’s planted!

  • It holds 25 bottles.
  • It comes in two pieces.
  • Bending/Shaping Pipe Included
    • Sandblasted and Painted Brown
  • Bottles Not Included
    • Free Gifts Included!
    • Free PRIORITY Shipping!

The “Wannabe” Bottle Tree


This tree always tries to be like it’s cousin ” The Unruly” (below).

  • The Wannabe stands 46″ above ground once it is “planted”.
  • Holds 14 bottles of any size and shape that you wish to display.
  • Sandblasted and painted brown.
  • Comes in One Piece.
  • Bending/Shaping Pipe Included
  • Bottles Not Included.
  • Free Hanging Blue Bottle Gift.
  • FREE Priority Shipping!

The Conservative Bottle Tree
$64.95 For the people who like things more “conservative” and “normal”.
The branches on this tree are more evenly spaced out.

  • Stands about 46″ above ground once it is “planted”.
  • The branches are even and go from large to small.
  • Holds 19 bottles of any size and shape that you wish to display.
  • Sandblasted and painted brown.
  • Bending Pipe Included
    • Comes in One Piece
  • Free Hanging Blue Bottle Gift.
  • FREE Priority Shipping

The Conservative” tree branches are larger on the bottom and smaller at the top. Any size bottle will fit on the branches. There are 3 bottles on each teir. You can shape your tree with the size bottles you put on it! Larger on the bottom, to smaller on the top, will give you that typical tree shape. All trees are made with pride, love and good Karma!

The “Unruly” Bottle Tree
$99.95 One of our most popular Bottle Trees!

  • This tree stands approximately 6 feet above ground once it is “planted”.
  • It has long and short branches.
  • Holds 22 bottles of any size and shape that you wish to display.
  • Sandblasted and Painted brown.
  • Comes in Two Pieces
  • Bending Pipe included
  • Free Gifts Included!
  • FREE Priority Shipping!
  • Bottles Not Included, But Love, Pride and Good Karma is included FREE in every box!

This tree is so “unruly”. It refuses to grow in a more traditional shape like the other trees!

It simply won’t conform.

The “Porcupine” Bottle Tree $119.95

WOW! The Porcupine Bottle Tree holds 37 bottles!
This is for the person who has a lot of bottles they want to display!

  • This tree holds 37 bottles!
  • It’s about 6 foot high once planted!
  • Sandblasted and Painted Brown
    • Comes in two pieces
  • Free Hanging Blue Bottle Gift and “No Evil Spirits” Sticker Included!
    Bottles Not Included
    • FREE Priority Shipping!

Bottle Tree Care: Growing A Kurrajong Bottle Tree

Here’s a species of tree you might not see growing wild in your area. Kurrajong bottle trees (Brachychiton populneus) are hardy evergreens from Australia with bottle-shaped trunks that the tree uses for water storage. The trees are also called lacebark Kurrajongs. This is because the bark of the young trees stretch over time, and the old bark forms lacy patterns on the new bark beneath.

Growing a Kurrajong bottle tree is not difficult since the species is tolerant of most soils. Read on for more information about bottle tree care.

Kurrajong Tree Info

The Australian bottle tree is a pretty specimen with a rounded canopy. It rises to some 50 feet high and wide, offering an evergreen canopy of shiny, lance-shaped or lobed leaves several inches long. It is fairly common to see leaves

with three lobes or even five lobes, and Kurrajong bottle trees do not have thorns.

The bell-shaped flowers are even more attractive when they arrive in early spring. They are creamy white, or off-white, and decorated with pink or red dots. In time, the flowers of the Australian bottle tree develop into edible seeds that grow encased in pods. The pods themselves appear in clusters in a star pattern. The seeds are hairy but, otherwise, look something like corn kernels. These are used as food by the Australia aborigines.

Bottle Tree Care

Growing a Kurrajong bottle tree is a rapid business, since this little tree gets to its mature height and breadth in no time. The principal growing requirement of the Australian bottle tree is sunshine; it cannot grow in shade.

In most ways the tree is undemanding. It accepts almost any type of well-drained soil in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, including clay, sand and loam. It grows in dry soil or moist soil, and tolerates both acidic and alkaline soil.

However, if you are planting an Australian bottle tree, plant it in direct sun in a moderately fertile soil for best results. Avoid wet soil or shady areas.

Kurrajong bottle trees are not demanding about irrigation either. Bottle tree care involves providing moderate amounts of water in dry weather. The trunks of Kurrajong bottle trees store water, when it is available.

Australian Bottle Tree Care & Maintenance

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Australian bottle trees are native to Queensland, Australia. Named for their shape, they have broad, rounded trunks that narrow toward the branches. The foliage is light to medium green with each leaf having several feathery lobes. The branches on most Australian bottles have very full foliage that drops each fall, revealing large oval seed pods containing round yellow-brown seeds. In the spring, it sprouts small yellow or red flowers. Adult trees grow to a height of about 12 meters or about 32 feet.

Care and Maintenance

Australian bottle trees love warm climates, growing best in warm areas like the Mediterranean, South Africa, Southwest United States and (of course) Australia. If you live in a cold climate or an area with extreme weather changes, grow your bottle tree in a greenhouse or indoors in a temperature-controlled room.

Choose a plot for your tree in full sun with very fertile, slightly acidic soil. Test your soil with a pH testing kit by rubbing a little soil on a litmus paper and comparing the color of the paper to those on the back of the kit. PH’s from 6.5 to 5.5 are ideal; if your soil is too alkaline add a little peat fertilizer to the hole before planting. Even if the soil is the proper pH, add a heaping handful of mature compost to the hole before planting. This will add nutrients to the soil and help drainage.

Water your bottle tree deeply after planting, until the soil is very damp but not squishy. Rainfall should be enough after that to promote proper growth, but Australian bottle trees do not like long dry periods. Water deeply every three days during drought.

The Australian bottle tree does not attract any particular plants or diseases. However, unhealthy trees attract pests and diseases the way tired and unhealthy humans attract viruses. Keep your bottle tree healthy by keeping it watered properly and mulching it every three months or so with peat moss or compost. If you see holes in the leaves, scars on the bark or any other signs of something wrong with your tree, spray sulfur on the affected areas to kill off most pests and fungi without harming the tree or the environment.

Australian Bottle

Brachychiton populneus

  • Another common name is the Kurrajong
  • Synonym Sterculia diversifolia
  • An evergreen tree that is hardy and perfect for desert areas
  • Excellent shade tree
  • Small to medium sized tree

The Australian Bottle Tree, botanical name Brachychiton populneus, is a hardy evergreen shade tree with an attractive upright form and bright green leaves that enhance any landscape. This small to medium-sized tree is an Australian native with a narrow growth habit that makes them a favorite for use in closed-in areas. Mature trees grow a distinctive canopy shape that helps to make them one of the best shade trees in the Southwest! We love the way the green leaves glisten in the breeze, creating a scene that is at once peaceful and beautiful. We also like to use them to block unwanted views and to help build a private yard.

Australian Bottle trees are perfect for low and intermediate desert areas. Ideal for any yard in the Southwest, these trees are also appreciated in yards throughout the Las Vegas area for their ability to be planted in rows where they can be used as a windbreak and for casting massive amounts of shade relief. The bottle tree thrives in a spot with full sun exposure. These are also water-wise trees, and since they are ultra-drought tolerant, they will have little to moderate water requirements once established.

Moon Valley Nurseries is the grower of Australian Bottle trees so that we can assure their quality is the best you’ll find anywhere! We custom-grow these trees and nurture them so that they will thrive in your yard. We have them available in a variety of sizes, from big to small. If you are looking to create an instant landscape, we recommend buying as big as you can and allowing our professional planting crew to do all the work!

Bottle Tree (Brachychiton populneus)

  1. Bottle Tree is native to the eastern states of Australia. It grows in a variety of environments and ecological niches, including both semiarid and subtropical mediterranean
  2. The English name Bottle Tree is particularly well suited not only for the shape of the trunk, which is wider in the base – reminding us of a ‘bottle’ – but also for another reason: by opening a hole in the trunk and pressing around the point, we can get water.
  3. Bottle Tree has surface roots but also extensive root system. It is estimated that a tree with a canopy diameter of 12 m roots develops and occupy an area of approximately 113 m2 and a volume of about 68 m3.
  4. Kurrajong is extremely resistant to enemies and diseases, drought, frost, but also to the overwhelming atmosphere of the cities. However, when it comes to planting in urban areas or small gardens, it is recommended to place it at least 6 m away from the buildings.
  5. The tree grows in almost every soil type but thrives on light and relatively deep soils.
  6. It has moderate resistance to soil salinity, has remarkably low flammability and can live for more than 50 years.
  7. The Bottle Tree with the Police sends ‘Message in a Bottle’.

Native Australian Kurrajong Tree (Bottle Tree, Brachychiton populneus) – edible, useful, hardy & versatile.

Buy Kurrajong Trees online

Bottle Tree / Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus) Introduction

Australian native, extremely drought hardy tree. Grows 5-15m tall. Edible seeds, leaves, flowers & roots – roast the seeds and grind into flour, make coffee out of them, or make nets from the fibrous bark and catch some fish. Bird & Insect attracting. Very easy to grow and suitable for just about any position. Suitable as wind break, cattle fodder, pot plant, feature tree, street tree, shade tree, this tree has got it all! Frost hardy to -5.

Bottle Tree / Kurrajong appearance

The Kurrajong, or Bottle Tree, is a medium sized tree, and native to Eastern Australia (Eastern Victoria to Townsville). It grows 5-15m tall with a short, Boab-like trunk and dense crown of glossy green foliage. Brachychiton populneus is semi-deciduous – trees lose their leaves briefly during winter, before shooting beautiful new foliage.

The Kurrajong bears bell shaped, cream to pink flowers with red speckles from October to January. Flowers are followed by hard-shelled, dark brown seed pods. Seed pods are 2-3” long, and contain large yellow seeds. Gloves should be worn when breaking the pods open, as they contain fine hairs (like fibreglass fibres) which are irritating to skin. The seeds themselves are fine to handle.

How to grow Bottle Tree / Kurrajong

Plants don’t come much easier than the Kurrajong! It is a very adaptable, extremely drought-hardy tree. Kurrajongs grows best in well draining soils, but will adapt to pretty well any condition. This includes rocky slopes, sandy soils, fertile soils and alkaline soils. They also grow well in large pots, don’t mind being pot bound, and will probably survive you going on a holiday without watering it. Not to say you should, it’s best to give it some TLC, but this is a gem for brown-thumbs.

The Kurrajong has a very deep root system, which is responsible for its drought hardiness. The stout trunk also holds water, similar to a Boab Tree, which makes this tree even more drought hardy. Being a very deep rooted tree, it’s suitable for growing in conjunction with other plants in the garden, as it doesn’t compete for nutrients.

As if it wasn’t amazing enough, it also tolerates frost to about -5C, and possibly survives more severe frosts for short amounts of time.

Bottle Tree / Kurrajong uses

The Kurrajong, or Bottle Tree, is used right along the Eastern Australian coast as a street tree, and as feature tree in parks. It is suitable as a feature tree in a garden, as a canopy tree to provide shade for other less sun-hardy plants, and as a medium-sized wind break. Kurrajong trees make an excellent shade tree, pop one in the middle of the lawn for a beautiful shady, sheltered spot for a picnic table!

Kurrajongs, or Bottle Trees, are planted in paddocks to provide fodder for cattle and sheep, mainly as emergency fodder in drought. It also provides good shade for the animals, and does not compete with grass or other plants/produce grown in the same paddock.

Seeds and flowers attract birds such as Cockatoos, and insects.

Fibre from the trunk of the tree was traditionally used to make rope and nets. Quote: “With twine made from Kurrajong bark, Aboriginal people of the Hastings River region, NSW, made fishing nets. They would drive the fish into the nets.” (Aboriginal Plant Use in SE Australia –

Eating Kurrajong seeds/plants (Brachychiton)

The Kurrajong tree has a lot to offer a garden, as it is not only very hardy, it is also useful and edible! Kurrajong seeds can be roasted and eaten (note it should be cooked in one way or another before eating); Aboriginal people roasted & ground the seeds and used it to make cakes. It was also used as a flour-extender. It is quite a useful, sustainable food source, as the seeds remain in their pods a long time, and stay good for a year or more whilst in the pod. Simply pick what you need and leave the rest on the tree. Possibly for the birds, things are always better shared 🙂

One of’s forum members describes: “After 5 to 10 minutes, the seeds start to become crunchy…” “So when lightly toasted, they become crunchy on the outside and are somewhat like popcorn kernels which haven’t popped, but not as hard as that. They are nice as a snack, but the oil and salt, really lifted the flavours and the appeal of the seeds.” Seeds are very nutritious and are high in protein, minerals, and fats.

Some sources also list the taproot as a nutritious vegetable, as well as listing the leaves and flowers as being edible. Quote “The flowers have a somewhat waxy texture and a very mild vegetable taste, often with a sweet note coming from the nectar in the flower”. ( The description of the leaf is slightly less attractive, being ‘fibrous, somewhat bitter, and mucousy’. Yum. I might try them one day. They do recommend eating the leaves young, as they get more bitter and mucous as they age.

Ground-up seeds can also be brewed into a coffee substitute, which is described as having more of a mocha-taste, rather than a true coffee taste.

Bottle Tree / Kurrajong common names

Bottle Tree, Kurrajong, Lacebark Kurrajong


Photo credits: Krzystof ziarnek, Monomoyano

Our Wild Foods to the World –

Aboriginal Plant Use in SE Australia –

Australian bottle tree does well in desert


Question: What is this tree?

Answer: The tree in the photo is a bottle tree or Brachychiton rupestris. The narrow-leaved bottle tree is from Australia’s desert regions that does well in the lower deserts. The swollen base or caudex allows this tree to store much-needed moisture. This tree will grow to about 30 feet and has a pyramidal growth habit.

Q: I am interested in knowing more about Bacillus thuringiensis, the product often recommended to control caterpillars. What is the best time of the day to use the product? Does outdoor temperature diminish the effectiveness of the product? I have used the product DiPel that has BT in it but is it as effective? Can BT be stored in a hot garage or should it be stored in a cooler environment? If I am spraying Texas mountain laurel because of caterpillars, how often should I reapply the BT?

Thank You.

— Wendy A. Jones

A: I consulted Starr Urbatsch, our agave-collections manager. Starr had this recommendation:

“Always read and follow product labels. Try and make applications in the cooler part of the day. Avoid spraying the plant when it is in the sun. Late evening is a good time to spray BT. All surfaces where caterpillars are feeding must be well covered. Application timing is very important. Apply BT right caterpillars are hatching using a wettable powder for best effect. More than one application may be needed. Store product in a cool dry place away from sunlight. Use liquid BT within six months of purchase and dry powders within a year. DiPel is just one of many products containing the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis. BT does work well if applied correctly.”

Q: Lots of so-called “landscapers” blow leaves off the gravel into the street. I’ve always thought that leaves create wonderful mulch for trees and the soil. I wait until leaves are dry and brown and look a lot like gravel and then rake them into the gravel rather than blow them into the street so they can blow into someone else’s yard.

Am I correct or are the gas-powered leaf-blower guys right?

— Ginger Swartz, Surprise

A: I like the way you think. You are right. Keep it up.

Brian Kissinger is director of horticulture at the Desert Botanical Garden. E-mail garden questions to [email protected]

Brachychitons, the Australian Bottle Trees

Ever since I became interested in plants, I have struggled to find some trees that interested me, too–other than palm trees, that is. I loved the succulents, cacti, palms, cycads, bromeliads and other smaller tropical or desert plants. But I just wasn’t that interested in anything tall and tree-like, and my landscapes needed something taller. I grew Bamboo, but that didn’t satisfy my urges to find an interesting tree. Then my friend boought a Brachychiton discolor and a B. rupestris. I looked around and found large examples of these two trees and I was hooked!

Brachychiton is a primarily Australian genus (one of the approximately 30 species is from New Guinea) collectively known as the Bottle Trees (or, locally, Kurrajongs). Though many are known for their somewhat swollen trunks, really only one species to me would qualify as something I would call a bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris). Most of these fat-trunked trees are true ‘pachycauls’ or trees that store water in their swollen trunks to survive periods of long and/or extreme drought. Only a handful of these approximately 30 species are known in cultivation. Some of these trees are evergreens (the desert, more bottle-trunked forms) and some are deciduous, flowering primarily as the leaves fall off (the forest growing species). These trees are not generally very cold tolerant and seem best adapted to Mediterranean climates such as those found in the Southwest US, South Africa, much of coastal Australia, and, of course, the Mediterranean. Some species are also quite well adapted to more tropical climates, and even some of the commonly grown species can be found in Hawaii and Florida. These are monoecious trees (both male and female flowers on same tree).

Seed pod of this genus are large and filled with dozens of ovoid 1cm seeds that are obviously quite popular with squirrels (who always outcompete me when I am trying to raid the pods in the local arboretums). Care must be taken when handling these seed pods as the seeds themselves are coated, in most species I have seen, with a dense layer of fuzz, which turns out to be dense matte of spines. These spines are urticating and very hard to get out of one’s skin- use gloves or forceps when extracting Brachychiton seeds! Fresh seeds have proven quite easy to germinate. Just plant shallowly in moist potting soil or perlite and keep warm (80F) and most will germinate in less than a few weeks.

seed pod cluster in a Brachychiton populeus (photo by Xenomorf); close up of a seed pot showing the fuzzy spines surrounding the seeds; this third photo is usually how I find the seed pods- empty thanks to the squirrels

Brachychiton acerifolius (aka Illawara Flame Tree, Australian Flame tree, Flame Bottle Tree, Flame Kurrajong) When in bloom this is one of the most spectacular trees I have seen and definitely one I would love to have in my garden had I the room for any trees in my garden. However it is not a reliable bloomer in southern California and some years blooming is better than others. This is in its native Australia a deciduous forest tree, losing its leaves in the dry season and flowering then. Only I suspect the dry season in climates that have one, tend to also be the cooler season. In a tropical climate like Hawaii that has a short dry season in the summers but little temperature fluctuation, the trees lose their leaves and bloom in that short two month period. But in a ‘reverse’ climate such as that found in southern California when the cold season is also the wettest season, these trees seem ‘confused’ and are much less reliable in their blooming patterns, as well as their leaf loss patterns. In southern California this species is mostly evergreen, perhaps having a somewhat sparser foliage during the time of flowering (which can be anywhere from spring to fall). I think this might have something to do with the erratic nature of the flowering in southern California–some trees will fail to flower for years at a time, or flower half-heartedly. Certainly it is rare to see a completely brilliant red-orange leafless tree in full flower as one might come across in the summers of Australia, South Africa or Hawaii. Still, it as an attractive tree regardless.

‘typical’ look of Brachychiton acerifolius in summer blooms (photos by AustinBarbie and TQGARDEN)

two different trees in spring and summer showing more typical flowering look seen in Southern California- leaves still on and flowers far less visible (still spectacular, though)

Flowers of Brachychiton acerifolius

The name ‘acerifolius’ means maple-like, and the leaves indeed somewhat resemble those of a maple tree, at least in overall shape and form. Brachychiton acerifolius has the largest leaves of the commonly grown Brachychitons and can be distinguished from other Brachychitons by the thin, very shiny, somewhat elongated dissected maple-like leaves. The trunks of these trees are not impressively bottle-like and have a smoothish grey bark. It is a somewhat cold sensitive species only tolerating a few degrees of frost below 32 F (0 C). Probably around the world, this is the most commonly cultivated of the Brachychitons.

leaves showing the typical rounded tips (photo by pdb_bermudiana); young Brachychiton acerifolias for sale in southern California

Brachychiton australis (aka Broadleaf Bottle Tree) is one of the least-commonly grown of the ‘common’ Brachychitons. I am not sure what its flowers are like (I know they are white) though I have seen these trees on a number of occasions at the local botanical gardens and at a friend’s home. Perhaps in southern California they don’t flower well. The leaves of this species are also shiny and maple-like, but not elongated. They are somewhat star-shaped with very pointed tips. The trunks of these trees are noticeably greenish even when mature. Branches tend to be rather thick and taper very rapidly giving these trees a clumsy appearance, particularly when leafless. This species is one of the least ornamental of the more common species in my opinion. Brachychiton australis is a deciduous tree and comes from a markedly dry climate. It is not very cold hardy, either, perhaps similar to Brachychiton acerifolius in its sensitivity to cold.

Brachychiton australis in Southern California; leaves showing typical shiny, pointed stars; typical greenish trunk

Brachychiton bidwillii (aka Rusty Kurrajong) is a pretty rare tree in cultivation, but not unheard of. I had several of these at my old house and they were fairly slow growing trees in zone 9b Southern California. I have seen large ones in the Los Angeles Arboretum, but never seen those monsters in flower. This is a fuzzy-leaved species deciduous forest species noted for its large, spectacular red-pink bell-shaped flowers. This is a species that seems to have no problem blooming in southern California, but blooming times are somewhat inconsistent, with some plants blooming in spring and others blooming later in the year. New leaves start out an attractive rust color and are very fuzzy, then mature to a bright, flat green with a very short coating of fuzz on them. Leaves of juvenile plants are exaggeratedly dissected, but mature trees have more star-shape, maple-like leaves. Trunks are grey and not the least bit bottle-like. This plant seems to be a bit more cold tolerant than the above two tolerating temps into the low 20s briefly.

Brachychiton bidwillii in Southern California; smaller seedling in flower (no leaves) in late spring; flowers of Brachychiton bidwillii

mature leaves in first photo; new fuzzy reddish leaves in middle photo; young tree half way between losing all its leaves and making flowers

Brachychiton discolor (Pink Flame Tree, Brush Kurrajong or Lacebark Tree) is one of the more commonly grown Brachychitons in southern California landscaping. Though it is certainly not what I would call a common tree, I do see several in most suburbs of Los Angeles, and most botanical gardens have at least one of these. These are really large trees, easily the largest of all the common Brachychitons, and, to me, one of the messiest trees, dropping massive amounts of leaves at one time of the year (usually spring) followed by a massive flower drop in late summer. Brachychiton discolor is the most reliably flowering of all the common Brachychitons, producing huge volumes of pink, bell-shaped flowers in summer that make this a strikingly beautiful tree in summers. Leaves are large, slightly fuzzy, and maple-leaf-shaped. The trunk is roughly grooved and grey (unlike most of the other Brachychiton trunks which are much smoother). This is a rainforest tree but seems quite happier in drier Mediterranean climates. I have not ever seen cold damage to this tree so I can handle temps well into the low 20s, and I don’t know how much colder. I have tried to bonsai this species and it has actually done quite well in a small pot developing a wonderful, fat, twisted root… but it tends to still grow tall, and is obviously not hugely happy being root bound only holding a modest number of leaves and failing to flower for me (so far).

Brachychiton discolor in full flower; second photo of very old tree in full leaf (both in Southern California)

flowers of Brachychiton discolor

mature leaves (photo by Kelli); and immature leaves; last photo is of my ‘bonsaid’ specimen

Brachychiton populneus (aka Bottle Tree, Black Kurrajong etc.) is easily the most commonly used Brachychiton in public planting projects in southern California and is a fairly common street tree. Sadly, to me at least, it is the least interesting of the cultivated Brachychitons, perhaps because it is so common? It has simple ovoid to 3-pointed, slightly curled small bright green leaves and fairly small, non-descript off-white flowers, with pinkish, spotted centers, that are barely noticeable. This is an evergreen species (desert tree) so the flowers are doubly hard to pick at unless one looks closely. The trunks of this species are markedly tapering and at least look somewhat bottle-like, and the trees somewhat resemble giant bonsai trees. The trunk color is a light tan with a hint of green under the paper-thin bark and quite smooth.

mature example of Brachychiton populneus as street tree in Southern California; leaves; trunk (photo by Xenomorf)

Brachychiton rupestris (Narrowleaf Bottle Tree, Queensland Bottle Tree, Queensland Kurrajong) is my personal favorite species of Brachychiton. This to me is the true bottle tree as these plants develop grossly thickened trunks, often immensely so, that taper almost comically, just like a bottle. Trunks have a thin layer of tan bark and usually some of the pale green color from beneath shows through. The leaves of this species are quite variable with some specimens having very narrow leaflets forming three to 6 points, to plants that have wider leaves that look a lot like the Brachychiton populneus 3-point leaves (perhaps this is a natural hybrid, as these are both desert species?). Immature plants have simple, narrow lancelote dark green leaves. Like Brachychiton populneus, Brachychiton rupestris is an evergreen with similarly small and often insignificant pale pink flowers with spotted throats. I have one of these in the yard and though the flowers may be small and not all that easy to notice from a distance, these trees drop hundreds upon hundreds of flowers all summer long making it a disappointingly messy tree for growing in a succulent garden.

Mature Brachychiton rupestris examples in Southern California

flowers of Brachychiton rupestris; young green trunk; young plants being grown for sale, Southern California

various leaf forms of Brachychiton rupestris: simple lanceolate, trident dissected and the most popular form, the super-thin leaflet form

This is one of the easier trees to bonsai, and stems will still become quite stout and impressive even if roots are moderately bound. These twisted, swollen roots can then be raised up to increase the ornamental effect of these pot-bound plants. Cold tolerance is excellent (from my point of view at least) with no problems encountered in most cooler inland southern California climates. This is an incredibly drought- and wind-tolerant plant, needing no water whatsoever once established.

Old plant growing as a bonsai with its roots lifted up out of pot; my own plant started as a bonsaid specimen showing a nice twisted, swollen stem/root

my own plant, growing up over a few years… and now its ripped apart the planter box… oops

Below are a few photos of other species of Brachychiton I have encountered in southern California in botanical gardens, but I have never seen these in private gardens, for sale at nurseries or used in public landscaping.

photos of Brachychiton muerllerianus in Southern California botanical garden

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