Our plant of the month, the Tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) is a great substitute for the umbrella tree. It is a small tree to 10 metres with glossy leaves. Flowers are small and green/cream in panicles followed by orange, three-lobed fruit that break open to display a black seed in a red covering.
Cooloola City Farm, opposite the Community Centre, on Tin Can Bay Road, is open to the public for plant sales on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am-3pm, 07 54862304, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.cooloolacityfarm.org
The umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla), is a native of northern Australia and is a familiar sight to many of us. The glossy leaves branch from the same point on the stalk and the flowers/fruit are on stalks radiating above the leaves, both leaves and fruit giving an umbrella-like appearance.
However, the umbrella tree is regarded as an environmental weed in south east Queensland.
The reasons for this are that the seeds are plentiful, easily dispersed by birds, and germinate readily; the plant does well in shade, unlike many native species; and the roots are strong and invasive.
As a result, the trees invade forests, bushland and parks, outcompete local species and disrupt native ecosystems.
Although this tree is not a prohibited plant, it is clearly undesirable when out of its intended environment. We can all do our bit by removing seedlings or small trees from our own yards, as once they are fully grown they are hard to remove.