Backyard Buddies
Silky Oaks

Photo: Bidgee

Silky Oaks

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The Silky Oak, Grevillea robusta, is a very popular native tree in Australian gardens and can grow to 20 metres and live for up to 100 years.

In spring, their ferny, yellow-orange bottle brush flowers are full of nectar which attracts Singing Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Purple-crowned Lorikeets, Carnaby's Black-cockatoos, possums, bees, butterflies and other insects.

It was originally native only to eastern Australia but now grows across the country, mostly as a garden tree and on streets and nature strips. Although originally from NSW, it is now considered a weed species in Sydney and the Blue Mountains and in some parts of Victoria.

It is very adaptable to different climates and soil types, and can tolerate both drought and frost. It is fast growing and has a straight trunk so is a popular choice for gardeners that want to avoid a spreading tree years down the track although it will soon outgrow a small garden. They have large shallow roots that will grow towards water and can become a problem if they are growing too close to buildings or pipes.

Their flowers are actually flower heads made up of around 100 small flowers. Once fully open, they produce large amounts of pollen before a seed capsule is produced. Different birds will visit the tree at different times - honeyeaters for the nectar and cockatoos and lorikeets for the seeds,

Did you know?

Indigenous people used to make a sugary drink from silky oak flowers by dipping the whole flower heads into water to wash the nectar off.

Related Factsheets:

Sheoak

Sheoaks are very unusual plants because they have separate male and female plants. Each year the males will turn a dusky red colour as they release their pollen. The female trees have small red flowers and lots of seed cones. The sheoak doesn’t have big leaves, instead they have branchlets ..

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”Protecting & safeguarding Australia’s wilderness & wildlife is important for the health and enjoyment for our future generations, thanks FNPW for your support of our project.“

Dr Ricky Spencer – Lead Scientist Murray River Turtle Project, NSW

Photo: OEH