T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Stenocarpus sinuatus (Firewheel Tree)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Proteaceae
Genus: Stenocarpus
Species: S. sinuatus
Binomial name: Stenocarpus sinuatus
Synonyms: Cybele sinuata, Agnostus sinuata, Stenocarpus cunninghamii, Stenocarpus sinuosus var. latifolius,
Stenocarpus sinuosus var. intergrifolius, Stenocarpus sinuosus, Stenocarpus sinuosus var. sectus,

Common names: Firewheel Tree, Queensland Firewheel Tree, White Beefwood, Tulip Flower, White Oak and White Silky Oak.

Stenocarpus sinuatus is Australian rainforest tree of coastal Queensland and NSW and Papua New Guinea. It is now widely cultivated both in Australia and overseas. It is a member of the Protea family which also includes New Zealand's Knightia excelsa (NZ Honeysuckle). In its native rainforest conditions it can grow up to 30 metres but grows much smaller in cultivation, particularly in cooler areas (>10m). The cylindrical trunk has greyish brown bark with an irregular surface.

The dark, dense, glossy, alternate, green leaves may be entire or lobed. They can have wavy margins. The leaves on young trees may be >30 cm long and deeply lobed. On older trees the leaves are smaller and less lobed or not lobed at all. Leaf venation can be clearly seen above and below the leaf. The tree has very little leaf drop.

The Firewheel tree takes its common name from the configuration and the fiery red colour of their inflorescences in which the flowers have a wheel-like arrangement (10 cm across). The inflorescences are produced on the twigs below or back from the leaves, each umbel has about 12-15 flowers. The red flower clusters form on the older branches and are produced in late Summer into Winter. They flowers are sometimes hidden under the leaves.

The flowers are followed leathery 5 to 10 cm long, bean like seed pods which contain many 12 mm long thin flat seeds. These pods matures January to July the next year.

A tree growing in the Faarmers Carpark, Whangarei mid May


The fiery red inflorescences.


The flowers have a wheel-like arrangement. Last years pods are visable.