Brachychiton populneus (Stercula diversifolia). KURRAJONG. Victoria, N.S.W., Queensland, Northern Territory
STERCULIACEAE (Sterculia family)

A much appreciated tree in Australia, the kurrajong furnishes shade and shelter in dry areas, is lopped for fodder in time of drought, and is a source of honey. Clusters of pale bells give way in due course to surprisingly large woody follicles about 3 inches long, from which the seeds may be extracted. The seeds germinate readily, but in collecting them be careful of the short bristles, which are in high repute among small boys as itching powder; the name Brachychiton, which means short shirt, refers to this protective coating. In Scotland, where sark is the ordinary word for shirt, cutty sark means the same as brachychiton. The elegant form of this handsome tree often shows a green trunk. A mature specimen is on Serra Mall in the grove in front of the Lou Henry Hoover Building; look for it northwest of the Abies bracteata. Two will be found growing in very restricted conditions inside the north entrance to Wilbur Hall; an uncrowded specimen is in the Eating Clubs lawn east of Arguello Way. There is a newly planted specimen in circle 3 of the Inner Quad, as shown on the Inner Quad Tree Map. The Brachychiton rupestris shown in the same circle is likely a misidentification. Though it has yet to bloom, the leaf appears to be that of B. populneus ssp. triloba.

Other campus Brachychitons: Brachychiton acerifolius | Brachychiton discolor | Brachychiton populneus | Brachychiton rupestris

Illustrations (links open new windows): Silhouettes from Trees of Stanford & its Environs


Name derivation, genus | species: from Greek, brachys, short and chiton, a tunic, a reference to the coating on the seed |
populneus – like a poplar, from the shape of the leaves

Name derivation, genus | species: Sterculius, a god of fertilization (Roman mythology), who was the god of manure in reference to the unpleasant aroma of the flowers of some members of this genus.

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