Tree of the week: Brisbane box

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Good morning. A note to those who subscribe to the newspaper: The old Sunday Real Estate section is no more; you won’t find it in tomorrow’s paper. Part of it -- the Hot Property column, and a trend article about the housing market -- appear in today’s Home section. Other real estate news, including highlights from this blog, will appear in tomorrow’s Sunday Business section. With that, here’s another installment of Pieter Severynen’s Tree of the Week.

The Brisbane box – Lophostemon confertus

The Brisbane box looks like a polished, clean and green version of Eucalyptus. A member of the same myrtle family that includes Eucalyptus, the Brisbane box and its three sister species were recently split off from the genus Tristania and reclassified in their own genus Lophostemon. You may still see it listed in the nursery as Tristania conferta. It is native to Australia and New Guinea.

A moderate- to fast-growing evergreen, the Brisbane box is very well-behaved. It starts out as an upright, single leader (trunk), oval shape, dense-leafed shade tree. But eventually it assumes a more rounded form. While it may reach 60 to 70 feet tall under excellent conditions, it is more likely to top out at 40 feet. It needs some shaping when young but is low-maintenance thereafter. Poor nursery pruning sometimes gives it too low a head for a street tree, resulting in ‘pruning by truck.’ The bright green, oval, 4- to 6-inch-long leathery leaves are clustered at the end of branchlets. The feathery, cream- or white-colored flowers, three-quarters of an inch small, are quietly interesting but not outstanding; they also appear in clusters and eventually become brown, woody, eucalyptus-like capsules. Attractive reddish-brown bark peels off to reveal a lighter gray underneath. Brisbane box likes good soil; it may become chlorotic (yellow leaves) in poor soil. It loves full sun. The tree is deep-rooted and drought-tolerant when established, but will as happily grow in lawns as along the street. Pests, insects and smog do not seem to bother it. The variety Variegata has beautiful yellow and green variegated leaves.

Thanks, Pieter.
Photo Credit: Pieter Severynen
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--Posted by Peter Viles