Significant Tree Walk
Trees throughout the Sale Botanic Gardens can tell the history of the precinct.

This self-guided 30-minute walk provides a brief insight into the significant trees on the site. The walk is on formed paths generally suitable for people of all abilities. More information is provided below the map.

If you would prefer, you can also attend a free guided tour with the Friends of Sale Botanic Gardens on the second Thursday of each month, 10am - 11am. Tours commence from the main entrance on Guthridge Parade and bookings are not required. Private tours are available by appointment, please call 5142 3237.

To complete a self guided tree walk, please follow the map provided around the Sale Botanic Gardens and use the lists below to read more about each species.

Trees 1/1a: Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island Pine: Araucaria heterophylla, planted 1867

The Araucarias are an ancient group of evergreen trees found in South America, Australia and some pacific islands, and named after the Arauco Indians of central Chile. The Norfolk Island Pine is the most grown of the Araucaria family, widely used in the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand.

This is an iconic tree in much of Australia, initially planted as shipping landmarks and widely planted in public parks during the 19th century. The trees in this garden tend to struggle due to winter frost and average rainfall which is half that of their native environment.

Tree 2: Bunya Pine

Bunya Pine: Araucaria bidwilli, planted 1867

The Bunya Pine is native to Queensland and grows to 45m tall in the wild, but much less in cultivation. It is an iconic species from Victorian times and one of the most striking trees in the gardens. These trees produce edible seeds in large cones, weighing up to 20kg.

This tree is 22m tall and has a classic dome shaped canopy with spoke-like branches. The twin trunks or codominate stems can be a structural issue and is common in the species, but are not known to cause any problems. Nevertheless, this tree has been fitted with two steel cables for extra support.

Tree 3: Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar: Pencil cedar-Juniperus virginiana, planted 1867

The Eastern Red Cedar is listed on the National Trust Significant Tree Register due to its size and rarity in Australia. Native to eastern North America, it is not a true cedar, but a juniper, a slow growing tree that rarely exceeds 20m in height. It is long lived, with some trees exceeding 700 years.

It has a waxy berry-like fruit which is actually a cone. The wood is light and durable and is used to line cupboards because the aromatic wood repels moths. It has been used to create bows and is one of a few species used for making pencils. The lean on this tree is of concern and is being monitored.

Trees 4/4a: Himalayan or Deodar Cedar

Himalayan or Deodar Cedar: Cedrus deodara, planted 1867

The Deodar Cedar is found throughout the western Himalayas, above 1700m. Deodar means wood of the gods and in some areas they are worshipped as a divine tree. They are now almost extinct over much of their original range due to timber harvesting.

Although common in parks throughout the world, growing up to 40m tall is too large for most gardens. Its timber is highly valued due to its durability and resistance to rot, often used to make temples. The inner wood is aromatic and used to make incense. The curative properties of Deodar are well recorded in Indian medicines. This tree suffers because it is a favourite roosting site for the gardens’ visiting peacocks.

Tree 5: Hoop Pine

Hoop Pine: Araucaria cunninghamii, planted 1867

The Hoop Pine grows up to 60m tall and is a native of tropical and subtropical rainforests in Queensland, NSW & New Guinea. In historic times, it was an important source of timber for masts and spars of sailing ships.

The Australian plywood industry was largely founded on Hoop Pine and resin was used by Aboriginal people as glue or cement. This tree is an unusual shape for the species, being broad rather than tall.

Tree 6: The Elm Forest

The Elm Forest

This is a special place in the gardens and a unique feature that is a joy to visit at any time of the year. It’s very much a mystical site, full of fairies! The Elm Forest is mostly composed of English Elms (Ulmus procera) produced from suckering from roots of the original tree.

Dutch elm disease killed most of these trees in the northern hemisphere and the most significant population of elms in the world can now be found in cooler parts of Australia.

There are three other species of elms in the gardens, Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) near the path edge, which has grown larger in this protected micro climate and an ancient looking Gledistia (Gledistia tricanthos) from North America near the Woody Meadows. It has impressive thorns not seen on modern cultivars. If you look in the hollow trunk you can see roots growing in the decaying material – the tree is recycling nutrients!

The Jolly Swagman sculpture (made by well known chainsaw sculptor John Brady) was carved from the trunk of what was a large English Oak (Quercus robur).

Tree 7: Bhutan Cypress

Bhutan Cypress: Cupressa torulosa

The Bhutan Cypress is native to parts of China and Vietnam and endangered in the wild. It grows to 30m tall and the foliage is said to smell like mown grass when crushed.

An interesting aspect of this tree is the lightning scar running down one side of the trunk. Lightning tends to run down the bark of wet trees, impact to a dry tree usually results in significant damage. The exposed wood clearly shows that the branches and the trunk grow separately, with the trunk enveloping the branch each year and forming the knots seen in the timber. This tree is one of many cypress planted in the gardens, most dating from between 1867-72.

Tree 8: African Olive

African Olive: Olea europaea subsp Africana, planted 1881

The African Olive is a small evergreen tree, growing to 12m tall. This is not the common fruiting olive as the fruit is much smaller and leaves longer. It is native from Africa to China, with the potential to become weedy in some environments.

Olive trees have been in cultivation for more than 5,000 years and can live for over 2,000 years! This tree has a form that hints at an ancient tree, but was probably planted in 1881 at Guilfoyle’s suggestion. A tea can be made from the leaves and ink from the fruit, while the timber is hard and beautifully grained.

Tree 9: Lemon Scented Gum

Lemon Scented Gum: Corymbia citriodora, planted 1881

The Lemon Scented Gum is native to Queensland and grows up to 50m tall. This is one of the most popular trees in the gardens! The trunk changes colours as the sun sets over the lake, and you can smell the strong lemon scented leaves. It is also a favourite tree for local cockatoos and corellas.

This tree is believed to be part of the 1872 planting and is 25m high and 20m wide. Previously named Eucalyptus citriodora, the genus was changed to Corymbia after a botanical revision in 1995. Corymbia refers to the bud and the flower arrangement.

A similar tree can be found at the rear of Aqua Energy, which was the site of the curator’s house. Mulch is used under many trees to improve the soil, reduce competition from grass and to keep mowers away from the trunk.

Tree 10: Gippsland Redgum

Gippsland Redgum: Eucalyptus tereticornus ssp Mediana

The oldest of the Gippsland Redgums predate European settlement. It is only found in this area of Gippsland and intergrades with the River Red Gums (E. camludulensis). The trees located along the lake walk are estimated to be more than 300 years old.

Many are hollow and provide breeding sites for local bird species with dead trees left for habitat. The two nearby Aboriginal scar trees are of this same species.

Tree 11: Norfolk Island Hibiscus

Norfolk Island Hibiscus: Lagunaria patersonia

The Norfolk Island Hibiscus is native to Norfolk and Lord Howe Island, and possibly parts of Queensland and NSW. It is an extremely hardy tree and widely planted overseas. It has small hibiscus-like flowers and grows to 15m tall.

The fibreglass-like hairs found within the seed capsules are an irritant. These ‘monotypic’ trees (the only species in its group) stand like sentries along the path and are associated with the Guilfoyle 1881 plantings.

Tree 12: New Zealand Kauri Pine

New Zealand Kauri Pine: Agathis australis

The New Zealand Kauri Pine is part of the ancient Gondwanaland plants and the name Agathis reflects the cones’ resemblance to a ball of thread. It grows to 50m tall and is native to New Zealand, where its timber has been over exploited.

This tree is believed to have been planted around 1867 and supplied by the Melbourne Botanic Gardens. The crown damage that you can see is caused by cockatoos. The more common Queensland Kauri, Agathis robusta is identifiable by its larger leaves and cones. A young Queensland Kauri is planted nearby.

Tree 13: Pencil Pine

Pencil Pine: Cupressus sempervirens ‘Stricta’, planted 1867

The Pencil Pine is a very upright cultivar of the Italian Cypress and is native to the eastern Mediterranean. Some trees are more than 1,000 years old with durable timber, used to build the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

This tree was planted around 150 years ago, and new plantings of the same species create a living extension to the playground. In some Mediterranean areas it has been associated with death and was sacred to the rulers of the underworld, often planted by a grave.


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