top of page

Brachychiton bidwillii


Family:  Malvaceae

Distribution:  Queensland in the rainforests from Boonah, close to the New South Wales border, to Bowen in North Queensland.

 common name:  Little kurrajong

Name derivation:  Brachychiton...from the Greek, brachys, short, and chiton, a tunic, a reference to the seed coat. bidwillii: After John Carne Bidwill (1815-1853), a botanical collector of the period 1840–1850.

Conservation state : Not considered endangered in the wild.


General description:

Brachychiton is a genus of 30 or more species, most of which occur in tropical parts of Australia in dry areas or in the rainforest. They are large shrubs or trees.


Brachychiton bidwillii is a highly variable species that can sometimes grow as a small tree with a single stem reaching 4-5 meters in a span of 4 meters or more. However, other forms can be just over two meters tall. Southern Queensland forms usually have deeply lobed leaves, while the 'Maroochydore' form has very hairy 5-lobed leaves that are purplish-brown when young. This form features pink flowers that are shaped differently from all others, with a long tube. The largest flowers of the species are found on some northern inland plants (Leichhardt form).

On the coast near Bowen is the completely different form of the 'North Coast', with deeply penta-lobed leaves and small, bright red flowers. It has a short but spectacular spring flowering period of 4 to 6 weeks. Leichhardt blooms for 3 months, starting in mid-spring in cool years. In years without frost, they can flower from July to February.

Most forms of B.bidwillii shed their leaves before flowering. As the plants age, flower production increases, and after about 8 years they can produce clusters of up to 50 flowers coming directly from the trunk, just like the usual flowers on branches.

Little Kurrajong is an underrated species in cultivation. The best forms are among the most beautiful native shrubs and are prized for their flowers. Unfortunately, the plants most often grown in gardens are the southern Queensland forms, with relatively small flowers and a short flowering period. Like other brachychitons, B.bidwillii tolerates a wide variety of soil types as long as they are well drained. All bloom best in full sun, despite being 'dry rainforest' plants.

All forms are frost-resistant down to at least -6 degrees C and are drought-tolerant from very early (a little over a month) as they form tuberous roots (Caudexes) at the same time as the first true leaves. All forms respond well to pruning.

Two popular clones are widely propagated by grafting in south east Queensland. They are known as 'Large Pink' (or 'Beau Bells') and 'Large Red' respectively. The former is a deep pink, and the latter a light red that changes to pink after a day or two. Both have slightly lobed leaves.

Brachychiton bidwillii

SKU: P1978
    bottom of page