The Cape Chestnut is a medium sized evergreen tree to about 10m that really comes into its own in summer. During December and January it has been putting on a glorious display of pink and white flowers around Melbourne. While it’s not especially common, it is quite noticeable where it has been planted as a street tree. The fact that it is used as a street tree is indicative of its resilience in the local conditions throughout the year.
Calodendrum comes from Africa – from the highlands of Kenya to the coast of South Africa. It is drought tolerant, though it prefers a medium amount of water, and copes with Melbourne’s temperature range. It might struggle a bit in frosty areas beyond Melbourne, though.
As a landscape plant, the Cape Chestnut makes a great feature tree. It has a nice neat, compact habit and provides a shady canopy of foliage. It is not quick growing, but it is long lived. It will grow in full sun to part shade, preferring some humidity to dry heat, so some protection from extreme hot summer blasts might be advised.
This is one of those trees that deserve to be used more in a Melbourne landscape. It is relatively easy to grow and rewards you with minimal effort. It is also not that common so it can still be something special in your garden.