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Nuytsia floribunda: The Christmas Tree

joy love natural world Apr 07, 2020

My first introduction to Nuytsia floribunda was not a formal one.

“This is a Christmas tree, Wendy,” my kindergarten teacher informed me. But it didn’t look at all like the Christmas tree that we had just decorated at home. I wondered if she was mistaken but didn’t dare to argue. After all, she was a teacher. She must know.

“Now, children, use your scissors to cut the flowers off the ends of the branches and use them to decorate your Christmas panoramas.” Flowers? There were no flowers that I could see. Only the brilliant orange-gold leaf-like tips on the ends of the branches.

I cut them anyway, and kept my thoughts to myself.

Some years later, I was reading a book about Australian plants. There it was, a picture of that Christmas tree! It’s proper name was “Nuytsia floribunda”. I supposed that arose from the flowers, described in the book as “brilliant orange-gold leaf-like tips on the ends of the branches that come out in December with the first heat waves of summer.”

My teacher was right!

Now, my heart leaps when I spy the first of those flowers erupting from the green branches; Christmas is coming. To me their exuberance echoes the abundance of joy at this time of celebration as we gather together to exchange gifts and stories of the year just past. Their pulsing colour is like the warmth that flows so freely between us.

And, best of all, their faithful flowering, year after year, is a symbol of the only thing that lasts forever; love.


[Photo by Wendy Campbell.]

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