Museum of Brisbane

Brisbane Botanicals | MoB Stories

Brisbane Botanicals | Day 1 | Weeping Bottlebrush

This week we explore the beauty of Brisbane’s native flora! The weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis) is a plant native to the Brisbane area and known for beautiful flowers, adaptability and quick growth. Our Traditional Custodians had an expansive and nuanced understanding of native species. They also ate the sweet nectar of many types of Banksia flowers. This image is from Joseph Banks’ Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cook’s First Voyage.

Brisbane Botanicals | Day 2 | Yellow wood or Long Jack

The Yellow wood (Flindersia xanthoxyla) is a sub-tropical and dry rainforest tree growing from Richmond River, NSW to Gympie, QLD. The pale-yellow, elastic and durable timber was used for coach building due to its capacity to be steam bent. This exquisitely detailed illustration is by Brisbane artist, Anne Hayes and features the striking star shaped capsule from the tree.

Brisbane Botanicals | Day 3 | Black Bean Tree, Moreton Bay Chestnut

The Moreton Bay Chestnut (Castanospermum australe) is a large evergreen tree with a gorgeous seasonal display of red and yellow pea-shaped flowers and a bean that is toxic to consume. Brisbane’s Traditional Custodians actually treated the beans with specialised processes allowing them to remove the toxins providing a food source from the plant! This image is from Joseph Banks’ Florilegium: Botanical Treasures from Cook’s First Voyage.

Brisbane Botanicals | Day 4 | Moreton Bay Fig Tree

In rainforests Moreton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) often begin life from seeds placed by birds in the bark or branch forks of other trees, and their aerial roots gradually surround and strangle their host. The fruits of this native fig tree were collected by our Traditional Custodians, eaten when ripe and soft, but also preserved into fig cakes during plentiful crops. This remarkable watercolour artwork is by talented Brisbane artist Pip Spiro.

Brisbane Botanicals | Day 5 | Cinnamon Myrtle

This cinnamon myrtle (Backhousia myrtifolia) produces leaves infused with a cinnamon flavour that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes and herbal teas. Both Indigenous Australians and early settlers used its leaves for cooking and for medicinal purposes and its wood for tools.
This striking illustration featuring the star-shaped cream flowers is by Brisbane illustrator, Anne Hayes.

Brisbane Botanicals | Day 6 | Coastal Banksia

The Coastal Banksia (Banksia integrifolia) is widely distributed and resilient native plant with exquisite yellow flowers and contrasting dark green and white leaves. Flowers are produced all through the year and supply a dark amber-coloured honey which has been a food source for Indigenous Australians long before settlement. This beautiful watercolour illustration is by talented Brisbane artist Pip Spiro.