Trees are so embedded into the visual character of Potts Point that it’s hard to imagine that they are from a Post-Colonial era.
We’re truly lucky to have so much greenery in such an urban and densely populated environment.
Read on to find out more about the iconic trees of Potts Point and how one particular tree has locals divided.
American Bull Bay Magnolia
American Bull Bay Magnolia’s are unique and exotic and we are lucky to have several in the local area. This fragrant tree is native to the southeastern coast of the United States and Mexico. It flourishes in a warm climate and in Australia it was popular in 19th Century landscaping.
There is a prominent American Bull Bay Magnolia outside of the Wayside Chapel. It was thought to be planted in the late 1940s as a means to beautify the area after World War II.
Other American Bull Bay Magnolias were planted earlier. A 10-metre high specimen can be found near the driveway of ‘Tresco’ on Elizabeth Bay Road, which is thought to be planted in the late 1800s and a smaller tree can be found in the courtyard of St Luke’s Hospital.
Every November, Sydney streets are brightened by the lilac blooms of Jacaranda Trees. These trees are so plentiful in Sydney, that they are thought to be native. However, the Jacaranda Tree is originally from Brazil. The species found in Sydney was collected from South America and taken to the Royal Gardens at Kew in England in 1818.
Initially, the tree was considered too challenging to propagate but in 1868, landscape designer Michael Guilfoyle solved the riddle. Guilfoyle’s Exotic Nursery at Double Bay became the Jacaranda Tree supplier to the large private homes of the Eastern Suburbs.
There are mentions of Jacarandas blooming in the garden of Clarens, an estate belonging to politician Sir James Martin’s, which date back to the 1850s. Clarens has since been incorporated into the naval territory.
A large Jacaranda tree on Onslow Avenue is believed to be a remnant of Alexander Macleay’s Elizabeth Bay House garden prior to its subdivision in 1865. There are many smaller trees dotted through the area which shroud the streets in purple, every November.
London Plane Trees
The London Plane Trees are a key part of Potts Point’s character. They weave a canopy above Victoria Street and are prominent along Manning Street, Tusculum Street and Macleay Street.
These deciduous trees are spectacular in autumn, covering the streets with their ombre-hued leaves.
They were planted in the area throughout the 1920s and 1930s and chosen because of their drought tolerance and hardiness in urban environments, with the hopes of bringing more greenery to the area.
However, not everyone is enamoured with this foliage. Asthma and hay-fever sufferers dread September when the trees release their pollen (via the round balls) into the air. The London Plane trees have also been derided by prominent Australian scientist Tim Flannery who has called them as “foreign weeds … about as much use to our wildlife as concrete posts”.
Love them or hate them, they’re very much part of the local landscape.
Moreton Bay Figs
These distinguished trees are actually native to Australia and occur on the eastern coast of Australia as well as parts of Papua New Guinea.
The Moreton Bay Figs are known for their majestic branches and trunks, which are a tree-climbers dream and for their large roots.
In Potts Point, the Moreton Bay Fig tree was used in planting schemes and private estates in the 19th Century before the area was subdivided and more urbanised.
One prominent Moreton Bay Fig tree remains in the courtyard of the Habitat apartments on McDonald street. It provides a leafy barrier between the apartment block and adjoining properties.
This particular tree is believed to be a remnant of the McQuade family estate, which stretched from Wylde Street to Victoria Street between 1858 and 1890.
There are many Moreton Bay Figs in the surrounding area, including a 16-metre high specimen outside of Darlinghurst Court House planted around 1890, and a specimen in the north-eastern corner of Rushcutters Bay park which has a branch network that spans 28 metres in diameter.
If you’re looking to make the leafy streets of Potts Point home, contact my team today.