The Red Tree of Bangalow, NSW.

“There is a shade of red for every woman.”

-Audrey Hepburn

Please don’t mention red trees to my husband. Once when we were driving around Byron Bay, I kept pointing out red trees and wondering out loud what type of tree it was, which resulted in years of stirring and him or the kids pointing to every red tree we came across and calling out: “Red tree!!” I would’ve thought a bit of passion and enthusiasm was a good thing, but clearly you’re supposed to hide your love away. Be more contained.

“Red has guts …. deep, strong, dramatic. A geranium red. A Goya red … to be used like gold for furnishing a house … for clothes, it is strong, like black or white.”


Anyway, as soon as I drove into Bangalow on our recent holiday, I spotted the beautiful bright red tree in the grounds of Bangalow Public School. Indeed, I’m lucky I didn’t drive off the road. Red trees have that kind of effect on me, not unlike Chris de Burgh and his Lady in Red:

“Trees do not preach learning and precepts. They preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.” 
―  Herman Hesse



The Red tree viewed through the school gates. 

For those of you for whom the name “red tree” is woefully insufficient, and you need to know the official scientific names of trees, this is an Illawarra Flame Tree or Currajong.

It grows up to 35 m in the wild but only about 10m in gardens. The bright red bell-shaped flowers grow in clusters at the end of branches, often after the leaves have dropped, giving the plant a distinctive look. It is a deciduous tree that is often found growing alongside the Red Cedar in lowland rainforest habitat.

A few months after the jettisoning of the leaves, the tree produces masses of bell-shaped vivid scarlet flowers. They do not always flower annually and put on their best display maybe only once every five years, especially after a hot dry summer. In between these times, they may only produce one or two branches of flowers on the whole tree.

It produces a tough leathery dark-brown seed pod, containing rows of corn-like seeds that are surrounded by hairs that will irritate the skin and nose and throat if inhaled. They are toxic to many native animals and birds.

Backyard Buddies


red tree flowers

The twists and turns of these dazzling red flowers is so intriguing. I could stare at them for hours grappling with their idiosyncrasies. 

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. ”
―   Kahlil Gibran


“Put on your red shoes, and dance the blues away322222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222222666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666.”

David Bowie



“Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.” 
Wangari Maathai


“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

-Abraham Lincoln



These root protuberances reminded me of chicken feet. 

“I am old enough to know that a red carpet is just a rug.”

Al Gore

11 thoughts on “The Red Tree of Bangalow, NSW.

  1. TanGental

    Years ago, circa 193 I think the BBC brought out a drama based on a memoir by Elspeth Huxley called the Flame Trees of Thika, detailing her growing up in Kenya. It was delightful and I then read the book which was equally grand. So when, in 1988 we journeyed through Kenya and passed through Thika we asked if it was till famous for its flame trees. Indeed and I have a rather grainy picture of a group somewhere. Trees are wonderful things to be cherished, I believe. WE have many here, not many with red blossom save the occasional cherry which I can often be caught staring at. Keep up the good work. As for calling out on car journeys the kids introduced one involving crying out if you saw a red car, yellow Mini, blue van and something I don’t now recall. Bloody irritating! Thanks for triggering all those memories

  2. Rowena Post author

    Wow! Travelling through Kenya must’ve been amazing. We also have those coral trees here, which I thought were called flame trees because their flowers actually look more like flames than these ones. I used to try to climb one outside Church as a kid and never managed it. Being able to climb the tree is a huge deliminator between the big kids and the little kids.
    I think that car game is called Spotto. It has its origins in a sheet put out by BP. This is a reference to our Australian version:
    Was it it pleasant or annoying being reminded of the kids playing Spotto in the car or a mixture of both?
    Our Scouts are back from Jamboree. Reading through the parents’ comments on the FB page, there are a lot of references to dust. It’s got into everything and isn’t keen to get out. The kids had a great time though and Miss has been out socializing with her new friends this week. The boys look like they need a bit of encouragement and a boot away from their electronics.
    Best wishes,

  3. Dan Antion

    “Red tree” would work fine for me. Those fancy schmancy scientific names really seem like a waste of words. My neighbor once pointed to a flower and rattled off it’s long undescriptive name. His wife looked at me and said: “Some people call them violets.”

  4. Rowena Post author

    It is a beautiful song,isn’t it. I haven’t posted about this yet, because I wanted to drive by the beach and get some great photos. However, I got a red Alfa Romeo 159 on Friday and I just love it. It’s given me such a lift and we’ve even got out there and been cleaning the wheels. We were lucky to get it at a good price at auction. Drove it to Church this morning and felt a million dollars and have a black and white polka dot dress on for the photos. Red lippy and all. Stay tuned.
    Best wishes,

  5. Rowena Post author

    I know what you mean about the mess. We have a Jacaranda tree in our backyard which not only deposits it’s purple carpet but also a lot of leaves. However, it too is worth it. Do you miss living in Hawaii and have you got back there much?
    Best wishes,

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