Queensland Golden Myrtle (Thaleropia)
On a drive between Mapleton and Maleny late in October, I was blown away by a tree covered in golden flowers. Having done this drive thousands of times in the past, it seemed odd that this glowing beacon hadn’t come to my attention earlier. A couple of quick photographs, a flick through a few reference books when I got home and this beautiful tree had a name.
It is Thaleropia queenslandica, commonly known as The Queensland Golden Myrtle or the Golden Satinash and originates from the higher rainforest of Far North Queensland. Originally classified in the genus Metrosiderous along with the well known and popular New Zealand Christmas Tree (M. excelsus), our native beauty was given its own genus in 1995 which it shares with two species from New Guinea.
In the rainforest the Golden Myrtle can grow up to 30 metres tall with its glowing canopy visible from many kilometres away. In cultivation it tends to reach 6-8 metres. If unchallenged by surrounding vegetation it will assume a roughly columnar shape with branches reaching quite close to ground level.
Flowering is usually for a few weeks around early summer. This year, however, the plants are still in full bloom 2 months after I first noticed them, most likely a result of the dry and warm weather we have experienced recently. The Golden Myrtle prefers full sun. Any part of the plant in shade will continue to grow reasonably well but will not produce flowers.
Out of flowering season, this plant continues to stand proud with new growth giving the plant a dark apricot hue to its older green leaves.
Despite the fact that the plant originates from a relatively small area of the wet tropics, it copes quite well with the conditions offered on the Sunshine Coast and can even handle light frosts. Provided the plant has deeply cultivated and well drained soil it only needs regular water and a couple of doses of fertilizer for the first year to result in a hardy and stunning addition to your garden.
The seed, which matures in brown capsules over summer, will germinate reasonably well in a few months. Remember, this plant is from a rainforest so providing a seed raising mix which is rich in organic matter such as composted leaf litter or peat and keeping moist until germination will increase your chances of success. Alternatively, cuttings can be taken after flowering finishes.
Now that I have experience what Thaleropia queenslandica has to offer, I shall be finding a place for one in my own garden.