Stenocarpus sinuatus
Firewheel tree 

Angela Lober, 2008. © The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

The garden at Rose Seidler House

Austrian-born émigré Rose Seidler was an enthusiastic gardener, who established a sandstone-terraced garden of flowers, ornamental trees and shrubs, and citrus around the now-iconic modernist house designed for her and husband, Max, by their son Harry. The tall, conical form of the Queensland firewheel tree can be seen at right rear, against a backdrop of eucalypts. 

Photo © Justin Mackintosh for Sydney Living Museums.

Cover illustration for the Red Cross Flower Festival souvenir directory (firewheel tree at far left)
Margaret Stones, 1949, directory edited and designed by Roy Jenkins, Waite and Bull, Sydney
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

The firewheel tree’s striking flower is pictured here as part of a native posy on the cover of a souvenir booklet for a 1949 Sydney flower show. The firewheel tree had grown in popularity throughout the 20th century, and was widely promoted as a park and street tree by G F Hawkey, Curator of the Botanic Garden from 1934 to 1945. It became an especially popular choice for gardens on the deep soils of Sydney’s upper north shore.

Firewheel tree
Frank Hurley, 1968, colour photograph
From Australian Plants [periodical], vol 4, no 36, September 1968, p365
Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums, © Australian Plants Society NSW

Australian Plants was first published by the newly formed Society for Growing Australian Plants in 1959. The firewheel tree was featured as an ornamental street tree in the publication’s September 1968 issue, alongside a Wahroonga contributor’s glowing description of a ‘splendid specimen … covered in blooms from tip to base’.

Firewheel tree

Stenocarpus sinuatus