Malvaceae (mallow family) Brachychiton

Brachychiton rupestris Queensland bottle tree

The iconic Brachychiton rupestris stands at the front entrance of Memorial Church. Sairus Patel, 2016
Brachychiton rupestris leaf silhouette. From the book Trees of Stanford and Environs by Ronald Bracewell

The bottle tree both looks like a bottle, contains potable sap, and is a characteristic sight of the dry inland savannah of Queensland, where the roots, shoots, and wood provided food for aborigines. In Queensland the trees have pronounced entasis, expanding to as much as 6 feet in diameter well above eye level.

A stout specimen near the entrance to Memorial Church was raised by arborist William Parker in 1972. Its juvenile leaves were large but very delicate, with several lobes barely wider than the leaf vein, cut right back to the point of attachment of the long slender petiole. By 2000, the leaves had lost this charm. The small flowers, creamy with pinkish-red markings, were first observed in the mid 2010s. Like those of Eucalyptus, they have no petals. Several younger specimens are still clothed in juvenile form leaves: one in the inner northwest island of the Inner Quad, another on the eastern edge of the Arizona Garden, and another in front of 340 Bonair Siding. One planted on Stanford Avenue opposite Peter Coutts Road did not survive.

Name derivation: Brachychiton – from Greek, brachys, short and chiton, a tunic, a reference to the coating on the seed; rupestris – refers to growing among rocks.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Entry revised; flowering notes added; 3 young tree locations added (Aug 2023, SP).