Taisha is the author of today’s entry:
Brachychiton bidwillii is commonly known as the dwarf kurrajong. This photo was chosen from the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Regular contributor andreas lambrianides@Flickr shared this picture. I look forward to seeing more of Andreas’ photographs of Australian flora in bloom over the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, since winter is hitting here in the North. Thanks Andreas for the photo!
A member of Malvaceae or mallow family, Brachychiton bidwillii is a large shrub or small tree native to the tropical areas of Australia. This species is variable in its form with differing heights (2m shrub to 5m tree), leaf lobing, flower colour (brightish-red to pink) and flower size. This drought-tolerant species develops tuberous roots, and most forms drop their leaves before flowering each year.
Brachychiton was once placed in the family Sterculiaceae. Sterculiaceae is named after the Roman god of privies, Sterculius, in reference to the unpleasant smell of some of the species. Other genera that belong to this now-subfamily (Sterculioideae) are Theobroma (most are likely familiar with Theobroma cocao) and Cola, the genus in which one finds the caffeine-containing Kola nut. For more, see: Plunkett, W. et al. 2006. Phylogenetic Relationships within the Subfamily Sterculioideae (Malvaceae/Sterculiaceae-Sterculieae) Using the Chloroplast Gene ndhF. Systematic Botany. 31(1): 160-170.