Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Perth Zoo Plants

During a trip to Perth Zoo last weekend I found myself more interested in the plants than the animals! I was busy snapping pictures of the unusual plants in and around the exhibits.

Giant Variegated Bamboo: Dendrocalamus jianshuiensis

Mondo Grass : Ophiopogon japonica ( dark green grass in centre )

I thought this was a fantastic example of a riverbed effect with low grasses planted amongst the rocks evoking an impression of water ( albeit green water! )

Lions Tail : Leonotis leonurus

This aptly named shrub was in the African Savannah exhibit. The seed capsules are as exciting as the flowers.

Sausage Tree : Kigelia africana

Here is some information from some signage at the zoo:

This tree produces large, reddish-purple flowers and wooden, sausage-shaped fruits, which can weigh up to four kilograms. Many parts of the tree are eaten by different animals.
Although the fresh fruit is poisonous, it can be dried, roasted or fermented for use as a herbal medicine or to make alcohol. Shelves, boxes and canoes can also be made from the wood.
This species has been introduced to Australia and is popular with cockatoos…though not overly popular with car-owners who have unwittingly parked beneath them.

Sausage Shaped Fruits.

I had trouble identifying this one although it immediately reminded me of a leaf painted by Val on her blog Pencil and Leaf. It could well be a False Aralia although the leaves are grey. It was quite a tall shrub ( about 1.8m ) does anyone have any suggestions?


  1. Wow! What an interesting place! I've never seen most of these plants. Variegated bamboo is very attractive, Lion's Tail is amazing,Sausage tree'fruit are funny! Very good post, Claire!

  2. Hi, great blog, nice to see zoo plants getting a good run. The plant in the last picture looks to me like it's a Cussonia, or Cabbage Tree - they're tough as old boots and suprisingly rare in cultivation. They're a southern African species that ahave lots of characteristics similar t succulents - contcat Andrew Blake at Perth Zoo for further information - Andrew.Blake@perthzoo.wa.gov.au

    Cheers, Richard - Curator of Horticulture at Melbourne Zoo

  3. Thanks Richard! It's great to know the name of it. Next time I'm in Melbourne I'll be sure to check out the grounds at your Zoo. I imagine you have a very rewarding job. Thanks for the contact details too.

  4. Yes, this is the South African Cabbage Tree, or Kiepersol, as we call it in Afrikaans. It looks like Cussonia paniculata with it's slightly grey leaves, C. spicata has green leaves. These are one of my favourite trees and I dearly miss using them in landscaping here in Perth. They can be used very effectively in a tropical garden as well as in a waterwise garden.