Brachychiton populneus

Malvaceae (mallow family)
Victoria, N.S.W., Queensland, Northern Territory
Brachychiton populneus leaf silhouette. From the book Trees of Stanford and Environs by Ronald Bracewell

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.

Circle 3 of the Inner Quad has two specimens. The one closer to the church was misidentified as B. rupestris in the 2003 version of the map; the leaf appears to be that of B. populneus subsp. trilobus. The other one was described around 2005 as being more recently planted.

Name derivation: Brachychiton – 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.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings subsequently added the Inner Quad locations.