Australian Native Plants as Bonsai

Catalogue Notes and Photographs from the Canberra Bonsai Society's

February 2016

Australian Plants as Bonsai Exhibition

held at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

Photos by CAS member John Lowry

Plant Species in this Exhibition

   Acacia aneura
    (Mulga  No 5 )

   Allocasuarina littoralis
    (Black She-Oak No 9)

   Allocasuarina torulosa
        (Forest She-Oak No 14)

   Banksia ericifolia
        (Heath Banksia  No 8 )

   Banksia marginata
        (Silver Banksia  No 13 )

   Banksia marginata
        (Silver Banksia  No 17 )

   Brachychiton bidwillii
        (Little Kurrajong No 15 )

   Brachychiton bidwillii
        (Little Kurrajong No 20 )

   Brachychiton rupestris
        (Narrow leaf/Queensland                             bottle tree No 21 )

   Baeckea linifolia
        (Weeping baeckea No 11 )


    Callistemon viminalis
   (Bottlebrush 'Captain Cook'  No 26)

   Callistemon sp.
        (Bottlebrush   No 33)

   Callitris endlicheri
        (Black Cypress Pine   No 30 )

    Eucalyptus gunnii
(Cider Gum  
No 7)

   Eucalyptus tereticornis
(Forest Red Gum  
No 23)

   Eucalyptus punctata
(Grey gum  
No 29 )

   Eucalyptus longifolia
(Woolly Butt  
No 31 )

   Ficus virens
     (White Fig No 2 )

  Ficus rubiginosa
        (Port Jackson Fig  No 6 )

   Ficus rubiginosa
        (Port Jackson Fig  No 12 )

   Ficus rubiginoa
        (Port Jackson Fig   No 32 )

  Grevillea 'Poorinda Marian'
"Poorinda Marian"No 16)

   Gymnostoma australianum
(Daintree Pine
No 4 )

  Kunzea ericoides
        (Burgan No 24 )

  Kunzea ericoides
        (Burgan No 27 )

  Leptospermum laevigatum
    (Coastal Tea Tree No 18 )

  Melalueca halmaturarum
   (Kangaroo Is. Paper Bark  No 1 )

  Melalueca armillaris
        (Bracelet Honey-Myrtle  No 10)

  Melalueca linarifolia
        ('Claret Tops' - Paperbark  No 19 )

  Notelaea ligustrina
        (Privet Mock Olive  No 22 )

  Podocarpus lawrencei
        (Mountain Plum Pine No 3 )

  Syzygium australe
        (Lillypilly No 25 )

The six plant species listed below (Nos 34 - 39)
are from the Bonsai Display at the Arboretum

          Eucalyptus lacrimans    
Weeping Snow Gum  
No 34 )

          Eucalyptus michaeliana
        (Hillgrove Spotted Gum    No 35 )

      Eucalyptus lacrimans   
Weeping Snow Gum
 No 36 )

            Eucalyptus morrisby
(Morrisby's gum No 37

          Allocasuarina verticillata
                (Drooping She-oak  No 38 )

           Eucalyptus scoparia
          (Wallingarra White Gum  No 39 )



1.  Melaleuca halmatuorum

Kangaroo Island Paper Bark

Age of Tree : 11 + years
Trained/styled since 2005

This tree is from the estate of Nancy Stacpoole. It was dug from the garden at the request of Arthur Court. There are no records of how old it was in 2005. The species occurs on either side of the Nullarbor Plain often in swampy habitats. The off-white paper bark is especially attractive.

ANBG location: none





2.  Ficus virens

White Fig

Age of Tree : 40 years
Trained/styled since 1973

This tree was grown from seed collected in the far north Kimberly, Western Australia. The figs were white and picked while I stood on massive sandstone blocks that tumbled down the dry creek bed. The trees produced modest aerial roots. Growing in Canberra, such roots only rarely develop and then only in humid hot summers.The leaves are slowly deciduous over winter. They turn brilliant lemon yellow, starting with the oldest, which means the lowest and innermost leaves become yellow while the outer/higher leaves remain dark green.


In late afternoon sunlight, the effect of the yellow glow is stunning. New leaves are a coppery red before turning green. In only the hottest summers do you get more than one flush of growth, meaning that tip pruning for ramification during the growing season only works sometimes.

ANBG location: 146


ANBG location:

3.  Podocarpus lawrencei

Mountain Plum Pine

Age of Tree : 40 years (estimated)
Trained/styled since 1976

Chris Smedley was probably the original owner of this tree, although I got it from Shirley McLaughlin's estate in 1996. The species is mostly found in the low alpine zone, growing closely beside large granite boulders, from which it probably gains needed warmth in winter. Although there are small stands of erect low trees known, this species is best known for it strongly zig-zag growth around the rocks. This is a female tree, which when pollinated results in the production of bright red 'fruits'. Interestingly, these fruits occur sporadically through the year, although pollination is only for a short period in spring.

ANBG locations: 67-105-143-231



4.  Gymnostoma australianum

Daintree pine

Age of Tree : 13 years
Trained/styled since 2003

There is one endemic species of Gymnostoma in Australia. The others occur on Pacific islands to the NE, especially New Caledonia. Of the few images of 'old' trees to be seen, the growth form is unusual with primary branches diverging straight and long from the trunk, then a cluster of smaller branches at the ends. I've found the green branchlets to be very brittle, easily breaking while you are working on the tree. Its bright green foliage is welcome in summer. While it withstands frost in Canberra's winters, it does get a bit tattered by the end of a long hard winter.

ANBG locations: 62-140-219-240



5.  Acacia aneura


Age of Tree : 5 years
Trained/styled since 2011

This was started as tube stock four years ago. It has thickened and barked up well in a 20 cm pot. It is tough and vigorous, and will shoot back on last year's wood if cut hard.

ANBG locations:99f-210-211-242




6. Ficus rubiginosa

Port Jackson Fig

Age of Tree : 20 +years
Trained/styled since 2013

This tree started as a bird dropping in another bonsai more than twenty years ago. It has been repeatedly grown long and cut back to develop the trunk.  The branches only developed in the last few years.

ANBG locations: 64-145-216-219





7. Eucalyptus gunnii

Cider gum

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2003

This tree was displayed in the 2006 exhibition in a shallow pot. The next winter, the tree died back, which I put down to the shallow pot, leading to the root system freezing. The die-back has caused a restyle which has led to a much more interesting tree.

ANBG locations: 99-198


8. Banksia ericifolia

Heath banksia

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2005

I bought this tree in 2005 as a standardized pot plant (1.7 meters). The nursery was located in Young, NSW and the owner/nurseryman had been experimenting with this plant for some years and wasn't happy with its progress. After buying it, I reduced its size to a lower branch which I suspect had developed due to neglect. (Bonus for me!)

ANBG locations: 128-174-239




9. Allocasuarina littoralis

Black she-oak

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2013

A reject from the club's sales table several years ago, this is an attempt at a more naturalistic style of a casuarina. I started the styling 3 years ago and it has been a rewarding species to work with.

ANBG locations: 40-124-223






10. Melaleuca armillaris

Bracelet honey myrtle

Age of Tree : 40 years
Trained/styled since unknown

I purchased this tree in 2014 as a recently hard pruned trunk. The tree at that time consisted of a trunk and a few old branches which had new shoots coming from the major cut sites. It was leaning over very heavily to the right from its present angle. The tree was originally acquired as an approximately 10 year old stock tree in the mid 70's. It was worked on in the previous owner’s collection until it was sold to me in 2014. I undertook a major restyling of the tree in late 2015 after I allowed it to grow new branching to work with. The angle was dramatically changed and some heavy branches underwent some heavy moving. In the spring of 2015 I made the present pot for the tree and focused on refining it to bring it to its present appearance.

ANBG locations: 99f-124-170



11. Baeckea linifolia

Weeping baeckea

Age of Tree : 15 years
Trained/styled since 2015

This tree was pot grown from tube stock (2001) and then ground grown by a private grower (2008-12). The tree was then placed in a training pot for a few years. I purchased it last year and gave it its first styling. The tree has developed very quickly since then to the present image you see now. The container was made by 42Mice.

ANBG locations: 13-44-52




12. Ficus rubiginosa

Port Jackson fig

Age of Tree : 10 years
Trained/styled since 2014

Port Jackson figs are a good choice for bonsai whether small or large. They are tough and hardy in most situations but do require protection from frost in Canberra. The leaf reduces in size with fine ramification of branches possible. This tree was purchased as bonsai nursery stock and has since been trained to resemble a natural semi tropical look.

ANBG locations:




13. Banksia marginata

Silver banksia

Age of Tree : 10 years
Trained/styled since 2010

This tree was purchased as a very young seedling and it had naturally downward sloping branches which is very unusual for such a young banksia. This individual tree's natural habit has been allowed to set the style of the tree which is quite formal for a banksia.
Banksia marginata is the only banksia that naturally occurs in the ACT and does well as a bonsai in the Canberra micro-climate. It is also a banksia that is likely to flower as a bonsai with a small green-yellow flower spike. Its leaf size reduces very nicely with age and the lumpy trunk eventually becomes rough and aged looking.

ANBG locations: 67-124-230



14. Allocasuarina torulosa

Forest she-oak

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2014

This nursery tube stock was chosen because it already had a textured trunk. A few small branches were removed with the aim of creating a small natural looking bonsai tree over the next few years.

ANBG locations: 141-142-170





15. Brachychiton bidwillii

Little Kurrajong

Age of Tree : 5 years
Trained/styled since 2011

I grew this plant from seed in spring 2011.  It was planted into a bonsai pot in November 2011.  I have another tree from the same batch which always looks scraggly but which has flowered twice, while this tree has never flowered

ANBG locations: 64-140-220




16. Grevillea 'Poorinda Marian'
Grevillea 'Poorinda Marian'

Age of Tree : 8 years
Trained/styled since 2011

Clusters of softly rounded red flowers hang below the foliage during winter - a delight to behold!

ANBG locations:




17. Banksia marginata

Silver banksia

Age of Tree : 18 years
Trained/styled since 2009

Three thick trunks give this tree a robust, well anchored appearance. I like the silver underside of the leaves, which have reduced well since being in pot cultivation. The original small nursery stock was grown in the ground for about 8 years.

ANBG locations: 67-124-230







18. Leptospermum laevigatum

Coastal tea tree

Age of Tree : 16 years
Trained/styled since 2006

Coastal tea trees exposed to variable strong winds develop interesting trunks, which I have tried to capture in this tree. The crown is still immature in its development but will be developed and refined over the next two years.

ANBG locations: 12-99-180




19. Melaleuca linariifolia 'Claret tops'


Age of Tree : 17 years
Trained/styled since 2006

This was my first attempt at styling an Australian native in a 'natural' style and is still 'in development' as I look to improve its overall design and balance. The new leaves are a delightful red.

ANBG locations:





20. Brachychiton bidwillii

Little Kurrajong

Age of Tree : 12 years
Trained/styled since 2011

This tree is defoliated 2 to 3 times a year to reduce leaf size and wired to aid flower display. It flowers around November after being allowed to dry out in late winter.

ANBG locations: 64-140-220








21. Brachychiton rupestris

Narrow leaf/Queensland bottle tree

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2015

This tree began as a 2 metre high nursery tree, purchased off the Victorian Native Bonsai Club sales table in Sept 2015. It was cut back and repotted immediately. What you see is the result of 6 months growth, pinching, wiring and basic carving.

ANBG locations: 64-107-220



22. Notelaea ligustrina

Privet mock olive

Age of Tree : 14 years
Trained/styled since 2009

The species is found in SE Australian rainforests from southern NSW through to Tasmania. This particular tree is from Tasmania. It is quite a hardy plant in the ACT climate and can be styled by pruning and wiring - although it doesn't shoot back reliably on older wood. The species derives its common name and the genus sub level (species) of 'ligustrina' because of its resemblance to the common privet - genus Ligustrum

ANBG locations:



23. Eucalyptus tereticornis

Forest red gum

Age of Tree : 16 years
Trained/styled since 1999

I collected this tree as a small seedling from a road cutting and placed it into a small pot. After 1 year the tree wasn't growing very strongly so it was planted into a foam box for 2 years, tying the trunk of the tree to the box to create movement as it grew. After the 2 year period, it was successively planted into various ceramic pots and the growth clipped into its current shape.

ANBG locations: 24-31



24. Kunzea ericoides


Age of Tree : 21 years
Trained/styled since 2000

This tree was acquired in 2000. The foliage was sparse and the left trunk was much higher than the other trunks. The tree was repotted in August 2000 to allow for mass foliage growth. In 2002 the left trunk was pruned back to its current height. The tree was potted into its Pat Kennedy pot in September 2004. Since then continual clip and grow shaping has brought the tree into its present style. This species flowers in late November or early December with tiny white flowers, approximately 5 mm in width, which develop tiny seed pods which burst open when ripe and new seedlings can appear in the pot.

ANBG locations:



25. Syzygium australe


Age of Tree : 11 years
Trained/styled since 2009

This tree was a gift in November 2008 and styling has been mainly by the clip and grow method. The only wiring done was to place the lower branches. The tree was last repotted in January 2012 into a pot created by Roger Hnatiuk. There may still be time for a repot this summer. Continual pruning has resulted in the tree before you. This is the first time that flowers have been produced. Can you spot the buds?

ANBG locations: 131-147-313



26. Callistemon viminalis

Bottlebrush 'Captain Cook'

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2010

This tree flowered profusely in 2013. Since then it has been styled and pruned quite heavily and has not flowered again

ANBG locations:10-11-43-124



27. Kunzea ericoides


Age of Tree : 100 years
Trained/styled since 2011

Collected from the wild in 2010.

ANBG locations: 11-12-124-131


There is no No. 28

29. Eucalyptus punctata

Grey gum

Age of Tree : 4 years
Trained/styled since 2011

This tree is four years from tube stock. It grew two metres in a season, and was cut back hard in December. I can reduce the number of shoots, to encourage length, which thickens the trunk, or keep the shoots as shown and start to develop branches and sub-trunks.

ANBG locations:



30. Callitris endlicheri

Black cypress pine

Age of Tree : 16 years
Trained/styled since 2006

This tree was discovered languishing in a corner at a nursery closing down sale. For some years I tried to style the foliage in a more compact nature - but the tree didn't cooperate. Having established the primary structure of the tree in the first years of styling, I have now relented and let the tree have its own way with some intermittent intervention with the pruning scissors. It tends to grow strongly at the apex so I prune this more heavily to balance the tree's vigour

ANBG locations:



31.Eucalyptus longifolia

Woolly butt

Age of Tree : 8 years
Trained/styled since 2010

I bought this tree as a small but quirky specimen at a local nursery to see if I could develop it into a small and visually interesting gum tree. The tree originally had this left to right character and so I chose to accentuate this rather than fight against it. To help the tree keep this feel and to reduce the amount of wiring I might normally use to push the tree from left to right, I place the left side of the pot against the house wall to mimic a cliff or overhanging natural feature that has shaped the tree in the first instance.

ANBG locations:



32. Ficus rubiginosa

Port Jackson Fig

Age of Tree : 15 years
Trained/styled since 2006

The tree was purchased as a 5 year old small stock tree, in fact one of the first trees i ever bought. It was only small, maybe 1-2 cm is thickness. I grew the tree on for a number of years to thicken the trunk, develop the base and chopped back heavily several times to produce taper. In 2014 the tree was placed in a small training pot and work started on developing the branching. In late 2015 the tree was finally potted into the current pot by Penny Davis (Mudlark potter).

ANBG locations:



33. Callistemon sp.


Age of Tree : 40 years (estimated)
Trained/styled since 2009

This Callistemon was originally grown in a planter box at the former Belconnen Mall (now Westfield Belconnen) and was 'rescued' in 2002 when the 1976 era planter boxes were removed as part of renovations. Several specimens were saved for use at the AABC National Bonsai Seminar hosted by CBS in 2004. This particular tree was not used at the seminar and it and its sister remained with me growing on in large plastic pots. In around 2009 it was given to another CBS member and developed and trained further before returning to me a few years later in its current ceramic pot. It has been allowed to grow into a rounded crown shape with sparse foliage typical of a tree growing in difficult circumstances.


Further work is aimed at creating more refined secondary and tertiary branching to fill out the three major trunk type branches. Callistemons are easy natives to grow as bonsai, as long as they are always kept quite moist. This tree has flowered sparsely and sporadically in small amounts in comparison to normal Callistemon varieties. The flowers are cream in colour and about 3 cm long.

ANBG locations:11-124-143-221-224


The following trees are from the National Arboretum Canberra – Trees as Bonsai (NACTaB)

The National Arboretum Canberra (NAC) includes a bonsai pavilion
(the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia – NBPCA)
to showcase works created by bonsai artists from around Australia.

Further information regarding these trees is below - after No. 39

34. Eucalyptus lacrimons

Adaminaby/Weeping snow gum

Age of Tree : 10 years
Trained/styled since 2015

This tree was part of the Arboretum in Miniature (AIM) development collection and was purchased when the project was abandoned in early 2015. It was grown in an orchid pot until December 2015 when it was cut back heavily and potted up. More branches were removed in early February this year. It is obviously in the very early stages of development and various options are being left open.

ANBG locations: 15x-15q-300



35. Eucalyptus michaeliana

Hillgrove spotted gum

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2009

ANBG locations: 34-43



36. Eucalyptus lacrimans

Adaminaby/Weeping snow gum

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2009

ANBG locations: 15x-15q-300



37.Eucalyptus morrisby

Morrisby's gum

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2009

ANBG locations: 18-99f-230



38. Allocasuarina verticillata

Drooping she-oak

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2009

ANBG locations:








39. Eucalyptus scoparia

Wallingarra white gum

Age of Tree : unknown
Trained/styled since 2009

ANBG locations: 19-44-328








The handling of the above NBPCA plants

This selection of trees were re-potted in 2015. A third of the tightly compacted root ball was removed, a well-draining mix added and the trees returned to their 30cm orchid pots. The trees responded well. Branches were pruned to create a more mature shape, the new growth has been clipped to reduce the height of the tree and encourage growth of fine branches. In mid-2015 they were potted into ‘large’ bonsai pots. The large pot enables the root ball to support a slightly faster growth of branches and assist with trunk thickening. The trees suffered a drying out spell during a few days of hot weather last September, some lost most of their leaves but recovered and put out new growth (a positive trait for a bonsai tree). The large pots will suit the trees better in years to come but for now they showcase a beautiful native ‘tree in a pot’ (bonsai).