The Native Frangipani has become not only a very popular and ornamental tree around Melbourne, but a very reliable and consistent performer. It has a very elegant form to it, growing erect to around 12m with spaced, horizontal branches that give it a rather open habit.
Its prime feature is its spring flower display, which has been at its most magnificent through November. It covers itself in fragrant little trumpet shaped flowers that start out a buttery yellow and end up a golden ochre colour. The effect gives it a look that they’ve been painted on, with flowers of different shades of yellow on the same tree.
Despite adapting well to Melbourne gardens, it is a native to tropical Queensland to Northern New South Wales. Its glossy leaves also give it that tropical look. It is happy in an open position and tolerates some shade and while it prefers a moist soil it is quite drought tolerant.
As a landscape tree, it is great in positions where you need a bit of height but don’t have a lot of space to spare. It also works well in groups if you do have the space. It makes a great feature tree as well as a very effective tall backdrop to a garden.
The name Native Frangipani is a bit of a misnomer as it is not at all related to real frangipanis (Plumeria acutifolia) as actually in the pittosporum family. However it is more than a worthy substitute and grows much more reliably in Melbourne, though more frost prone areas in other parts of Victoria might be a concern for it.