Description: Mostly trees, often with swollen trunks, sometimes multi-stemmed shrubs, evergreen or deciduous, monoecious.
Leaves simple or rarely palmately compound in juveniles of some non-N.S.W. species, margins entire or lobed; stipules mostly shed early.
Flowers in axillary panicles, unisexual. Calyx tubular, 5-lobed, petaloid, cream to red. Petals absent. Stamens 10–30, subsessile on an androgynophore; staminodes 10–30 at base of carpels. Carpels 5, free, raised on a short gynophore; styles cohering when young, finally separating.
Follicles 5 or fewer, stalked, glabrous or pubescent outside, stellate-hirsute inside; seeds numerous, embedded in capsule by the interlocking of stellate hairs and honeycomb-like seed endocarp.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 31 species, Australia & New Guinea. Australia: 30 species, all mainland States, chiefly tropical & subtropical regions.
A few species are cultivated as ornamentals, as are some of the showy hybrids; these include B. acerifolius X B. populneus with glabrous, entire leaves and pink flowers 15–20 mm long and B. discolor X B. populneus with leaves entire or 3-lobed, glabrous above and whitish stellate-hairy below, flowers bright pink or red, 20–30 mm long. Occasional hybridization occurs naturally between some species in areas of distributional overlap. B. populneus is a valuable fodder plant for stock, especially in inland areas during drought.
Text by G. J. Harden
Taxa not yet included in identification key
Brachychiton x vinicolor
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Leaves glabrous, entire or 3–5-lobed; follicles glabrous on outside, stalks more than 20 mm long; calyx less than 20 mm long, inner surface glabrous; stamens and staminodes each 10–20||2|
|Leaves tomentose, 3–7-lobed; follicles rusty-brown pubescent outside, stalks less than 20 mm long; calyx more than 20 mm long, inner surface pubescent; stamens and staminodes each 25–30||Brachychiton discolor|
|2||Leaves with lamina usually 10–30 cm long, rhombic to ovate, entire or widely 3–5-lobed, apex short-acuminate; petiole usually 10–20 cm long; flowers bright coral-red||Brachychiton acerifolius|
|Leaves with lamina usually 5–10 cm long, ovate to lanceolate, entire or sometimes narrowly 3-, rarely 5-lobed, apex long-acuminate; petiole usually 5–8 cm long; flowers creamy-white and speckled dark red in throat|
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