Unrelated to the true oaks, this is a fast growing evergreen pyramidal tree in the protea family, native to the East coast of Australia, with deeply indented fern-like leaves. Mature trees produce a striking display of clusters of golden orange bottlebrush-like flowers 8-15cm long in spring and early summer. The flowers provide an extremely rich source of nectar for bees and nectar feeding birds like tui and korimako (bellbird). It can even be shaken out into a bowl and drunk! Frost hardy to -8 degrees once established but may lose its leaves in a frost, very tolerant of winds even at the coast, making it a great candidate for incorporating into a shelterbelt. Drought hardy but prefers annual rainfall of over 1000mm. Prefers slightly acidic soil and full sun.
Before the advent of aluminium, the timber from these trees was widely used for external window joinery, as it is resistant to wood rot. It has been also been used for panelling, joinery, cabinet making, fencing, and the back woods on guitars due to its tonal and aesthetic qualities. It also makes good firewood.
There is some scientific evidence that Silky Oaks can mobilise phosphorus in the soil though it is unclear whether this can be made available to other plants - I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Because of their ability to do this, no or only low P fertiliser should be applied or it can prove toxic to the trees.
PB8 Approx height 100-150cm Certified Organic Plant