Backyard Buddies

Plants

Plants provide food and shelter for Australia’s unique wildlife and create healthy landscapes for people to live and work in. But over time we’ve lost too much of our native habitat.

Local native species are easy to grow, are adapted to the extremes of our climate, and can offer a lot of colour and texture to make your garden wonderful for you and your backyard Buddies. Most importantly, a native backyard will help create connectivity between patches of habitat for the movement of native birds and animals.

Acacias

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Photo credit: John Tann

Acacias

Acacias, or Wattles, grow all over Australia – there are over 1000 known species. The Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, is the Australian national floral emblem and our national colours, green and gold, come from the flowers and leaves of this popular tree. They have very small flowers that occur in clusters to make their characteristic bright yellow display. Some have paler coloured flowers and one species, Acacia purpureapetala, ha..

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Blueberry Ash

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Photo credit: Tatters

Blueberry Ash

The Blueberry Ash Elaeocarpus reticulatus is a large shrub or small tree which produces lots of sweet smelling bell-shaped pink or white flowers in spring and early summer. The smell is a little like aniseed or liquorice. Its brilliant blue berries take quite a long time to ripen with some hanging on the branches until the next flowering season. It is a popular garden plant that grows easily in well-drained soil in a sunny spot. It can g..

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Callistemons

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Photo credit: Richard Revel

Callistemons

Callistemons are commonly known as Bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers. These shrubs live in warm regions of Australia, mainly along the east coast and south west. They provide food and shelter for native animals, birds, insects and skinks – they will attract plenty of life to your backyard. Callistemon flowers provide plenty of food for nectar eating birds like honeyeaters, insects, possums and flying foxe..

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Christmas Bells

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Photo credit: David Midgley

Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells, Blandfordia, grow in New South Wales and Queensland. True to their name, Christmas Bells have beautiful yellow flowers just like bells, or sometimes red flowers with lovely yellow tips. Christmas Bells flower during late spring and summer. The different species have different soil and climate requirements - Blandfordia grandiflora likes sandy soil with full sunlight and frequent watering while Blandfordia noblis wil..

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Christmas Bush

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Photo credit: FNPW Image Library

Christmas Bush

The Christmas Bush or Tree is a series of different plants that grow in almost every state. Victorian Christmas Bush Prostanthera lasianthos grows in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. It has lovely white, pink or purplish flowers which bloom in summer and provide nectar to birds. This Christmas Bush has another great plus in that it provides a protective habitat for birds to hide amongst. ..

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Christmas Orchid

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Photo credit: cskk

Christmas Orchid

The Christmas Orchid Calanthe triplicata is a native terrestrial orchid that grows in rich soil in rainforest areas and near creeks. It originated in Queensland but now grows more widely in the right conditions from southern NSW to northern Queensland. It is one of the larger orchids with deep green flowers and a tall flower stem up to 1metre high with multiple white flowers. As the name suggests, it flowers over summer. It is not an eas..

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Cycads

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Photo credit: Dinesh Valke

Cycads

Cycads have existed since the Jurassic Period 200 million years ago, and still thrive today in many different habitats around the world. Cycads are incredibly long-lived, with some individuals in the wild estimated to be around 1,000 years old. One of the oldest cycads "in captivity" is in Kew Gardens in London, and it at least 228 years old. Part of the secret of their longevity is that they grow very slowly - producing just a few ..

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Eucalypts

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Photo credit: JJ Harrison

Eucalypts

Eucalypts are commonly known as gum trees and are an iconic Australian tree. There are almost 900 species growing across Australia. These tall trees provide food and shelter for many birds, insects, and mammals. They also provide hollows for cockatoos, parrots, gliders, possums and other buddies to nest and shelter in. It can take up to 100 years or more for eucalypts to develop tree hollows, so avoid removing any from your place if you ..

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Hakeas

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Photo credit: Unknown

Hakeas

There are around 150 species of Hakeas native to Australia and they are an excellent choice for your garden to attract native birds. Each species has a different type of flower but they are all beautiful and provide a food source for many backyard buddies of fruits, seeds and nectar. They are closely related to Grevilleas and the two are sometimes confused. There are some small differences mainly in the leaf appearance but the easiest wa..

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Illawarra Flame Tree

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Photo credit: Bidgee

Illawarra Flame Tree

The Illawarra Flame Tree, or Currajong, grows in the wild from the Illawarra area of southern coastal New South Wales north into Queensland. It grows up to 35 m in the wild but only about 10m in gardens. The bright red bell-shaped flowers grow in clusters at the end of branches, often after the leaves have dropped, giving the plant a distinctive look. It is a deciduous tree that is often found growing alongside the Red Cedar in lowland r..

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Kangaroo Paw

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Photo credit: Ron & Beths Pics

Kangaroo Paw

Originally native to south-west Western Australia, these beautiful and distinctive flowers can now be found all over the country, as they're a favourite with many gardeners and landscapers. The kangaroo paw gets its name from its flowers, which are often red in colour, feel furry, and are shaped just like a kangaroo's paw. The nectar in the long and tubular flowers are an important high-energy food source for many birds, mammals and inse..

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Leatherwood

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Photo credit: John Tann

Leatherwood

Leatherwood trees in flower produce lots of sweet nectar in their masses of sweetly scented white flowers. During the Leatherwood flowering season from late spring to summer, beekeepers put numerous beehives in areas near dense stands of flowering Leatherwoods. Bees encouraged to collect nectar mainly from Leatherwoods in Tasmania produce a special, famous and gourmet type of honey called Leatherwood Honey. 70% of Tasmania's honey comes ..

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Melaleuca

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Photo credit: FNPW Image Library

Melaleuca

Melaleucas, or paperbarks, belong to the genus Melaleuca. There are over 300 species of melaleucas, most of which grow in Australia. We know the larger species as paperbarks, while the smaller are usually called honey myrtles. The often brightly coloured bottlebrush-like flowers of the paperbark tree attract nectar feeding birds such as honeyeaters and lorikeets, so they are an excellent tree to attract wildlife to the garden. Ma..

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Mistletoe

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Photo credit: Bill & Mark Bell

Mistletoe

Mistletoe has a bad reputation in Australia as it's a sap sucking plant that requires a host tree, but there are a few reasons to celebrate if you've spotted the bright red, octopus-shaped flowers of the Mistletoe in your area. Many people assume Mistletoe is an introduced tree, but there are ninety species of Mistletoe in Australia and seventy of these are native. Many Australian animals will feed on mistletoe. This plant is more n..

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Nectar giving shrubs

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Nectar giving shrubs

Shrubs are an important element of any good garden. Shrubs provide food, shelter and nesting sites for many different kinds of birds, insects, butterflies and other creatures. Shrubs are particularly important if you want to see small birds in your garden, as these tiny creatures need somewhere to hide from predators such as cats and bigger birds. Nectar giving shrubs are an excellent choice to attract birds and insects to your gard..

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Orchids

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Photo credit: FNPW Image Library

Orchids

Many of Australia's 1200 species of orchids are epiphytic, meaning they grow up high using trees or rocks for support. Spring is the time for many of our beautiful epiphytic orchids to burst into flower. One of the best known Australian epiphytic orchids is the New South Wales Rock Orchid, Dendrobium speciosum, which grows in frost free gardens from Gippsland in Victoria to northern Queensland. This Rock Orchid has creamy sprays of ..

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Persoonia

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Photo credit: John Tann

Persoonia

Persoonias are part of the Proteaceae plant family. There are many species that grow all over Australia. This plant is known by some strange common names - in Eastern Australia they are called Geebungs and in Western Australia and South Australia they have the less flattering name Snottygobbles. Almost 100 different species of these tall shrubs or small trees exist across Australia. Many different native bees will help pollinat..

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Red Cedar

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Photo credit: Dinesh Valke

Red Cedar

Australia's native Red Cedar, Toona ciliata, towers above pretty much everything else in the lowland rainforests. It can reach 60 m in height with a massive girth of 3m. You would be lucky to spot one these days. A century or more of clearing and felling for timber has decimated the wild population and most now grow only in plantations or as single, ancient giants in the rainforests of eastern Australia. Being deciduous, Red Cedars ..

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Scribbly gums

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Photo credit: John Tann

Scribbly gums

Scribbly gums are a type of eucalyptus or gum tree. There are a few species that are known as scribbly gums as they all have the 'scribbles' across their bark. Like all gum trees, large older trees are crucial habitat for many native animals and birds, providing tree hollows essential for nesting. It has clusters of five or so cream coloured flowers which provide nectar for native birds and bees. They are easily recognised from their..

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Seed giving grasses

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Photo credit: Rexness

Seed giving grasses

Native grasses play an important role in many habitats and they can in backyards too. Native grasses provide shelter from predators for many small creatures like finches and skinks, attract insects for other creatures to eat, and provide food in the form of seeds for many birds and other buddies. Plant some native seed grasses under trees, shrubs and plants, and in empty areas of your backyard. If you do, you will soon be seeing plenty m..

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Silky Oaks

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Photo credit: Bidgee

Silky Oaks

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 ..

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Trigger Plant

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Photo credit: John Tann

Trigger Plant

The Trigger Plant gets its name from its unique pollination method. When an insect investigates a Trigger Plant flower, it is hit with a club-shaped column that quickly springs up from under the petals. The insect's feeding activity disturbs small filaments in the centre of the flower, activating the column. On the end of the column are male and female flower parts. The male parts deposit pollen on the insect, and the female parts can be..

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