Time to ditch the fake plastic Christmas trees!

Fake Christmas trees, while initially they sound like a good idea (recycled from year to year), eventually they end up in landfill and don’t biodegrade. As these trees are also usually make in factories that produce unhealthy bi-products and use unsustainable resources the method of their creation is also an assault on the planet.

So what about a real but ‘cut’ tree? There are a couple of benefits to farmed native trees:

  • They are a renewable resource replanted each year.
  • They can be mulched or used as compost for the garden and thus biodegrade and help soil quality.
  • Australian native trees and shrubs are always best to attract native wildlife during other times of the year.
  • They make the house smell nice during Christmas!

The best reason with real trees however, whether cut or potted is that they help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Real native living ‘potted’ Christmas trees can be decorated for Christmas and then (depending on the type and size of tree), they can be either planted in the garden or kept in their pots on the balcony or wherever after use until next time.

Here is a run-down on some of the best ‘native’ Aussie options to choose from:

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

 

 

 

 

 

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

Negatives: feral invasive weed can grow to 20-35 metres tall; young trees have very sparse branches for decorating.

Positives: Restricting to a pot can keep both height and invasiveness under control. Recognised as a safe low-allergen indoor plant for asthma sufferers.

 

 

 

 

Australian Native Conifers

Varieties: Bunya PineHoop Pine and Callitris species of Cyprus Pine. Some lesser known Gymnosperm conifers may also be an option.

Positives: All suit long-term pot culture, heights controlled by pot size.

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She-oak Conifer (Gymnostoma australianum)

 

 

 

 

She-oak Conifer Trees
(Casuarinaceae and Allocasuarina)

Another less known one from the Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland is the Gymnostoma australianum.

Positives: Great food source for Black Cockatoos. Conifer like appearance.

 

 

 

 

Wollemi Pine, from Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens

 

 

Wollemi Pines
(also known as the Native Australian Conifer)

Thought to be extinct, was discovered over 10 years ago north of Sydney growing in a remote chasm in the Wollemi National Park.

Positives: Due to their traditional compact foliage they’re becoming a popular tree of choice. Keeping it in a pot slows down its growth rate.

Negatives: Not a small tree for garden; can grow up to 40 metres high in the wild with a trunk of over one metre. Needs to be kept well fertilised. More info on care of potted Wollemi Pines here.

 

 

 

 

Dressed topiary Lillypilly

 

 

 

 

 

Lillypillies (genus Syzygium and its close relatives)

Positives: Popular and inexpensive, hardy native shrubs. Can be sold as a standard or topiary or as living trees and shaped to traditional Christmas tree shape. Some varieties have attractive variegated red, cream and green leaves, as well as edible berries. Also safe indoors for asthma sufferers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potted Lillypillies

For other great native shrubs suitable for Christmas tree topiary check out this article on Gardening Australia.

References:

Image Credits:

Smaller Norfolk Island Pine branch

 

 

 

Link to article as featured on Hills to Headlands magazine.

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