Wattle be Australia’s top tree?

Flame tree, Moreton Bay fig and ghost gum remain among top 10

Take a stand and vote for your favourite in the final round

Ten trees are left in the search to find Australia’s favourite tree

Winning tree to be crowned on Friday

Media contacts: Laura Boland, laura@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 166 426; or Jane Watkins, jane@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0425 803 204.

Australia’s top 10 trees have come in all shapes and sizes, from the slender mountain ash to the bulgy boab. They are found in a range of environments, from the river red gum of the inland waterways to the snow gum of the high country.

Across the nation, over 80,000 votes have been cast, as Australians picked their most loved native species in the second round of voting, awarding the top 10 most loved trees, including:

  • golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha), which adorns Australia’s coat of arms and is currently in bloom 
  • Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla), a mid-east coast native only pollinated by fig wasps
  • river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), which provides shade along inland waterways like the Murray-Darling catchment

I love the red river red gum. These trees are used by First Nations People to make canoes, shields, coolamons and other tools. First Nations People burn the leaves, and the smoke is inhaled to help relieve coughs and colds,”says Renee Cawthorne, Project Manager of the Aboriginal Strategy and First Nations Engagement, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

“If you sit down under one of these trees and deeply watch and listen, you will see the leaves dancing in the wind, you will hear the songs they sing. They have so much knowledge and can tell you so much about what they have seen and heard,” says Renee.

“I’m not surprised that gums feature heavily; they’re such iconic species and so important across so many landscapes ­– from the alpine areas of the eastern states to WA’s southwest, and even Central Australia. But I think the handful of other iconic trees in the top 10 might give them a run for their money!” says Millie Ross from ABC’s Gardening Australia.

“I challenge everyone to take 10 minutes to tree-out today, dig a little deeper and learn more about their preferred pick. That way they can argue their case when the controversy begins, when we announce the winner on Friday!” says Millie.

The latest chop of the list saw many favourites go, including the:

  • ancient huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) from Tasmania coming in at number 11 
  • critically endangered Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis), only found in a hidden valley west of Sydney 
  • sandy-soil-loving old man banksia (Banksia serrata) from the east coast, which provides food for animals like honeyeaters. 

For more about the top 10 and to vote for your remaining favourites, visit www.abc.net.au/trees.

The winning tree will be announced on Friday August 26. Australia’s Favourite Tree is the online project for National Science Week 2022, undertaken by ABC Science with funding through the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia strategy.

Golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha). Credit: Melburnian

Talent available for interviews

Millie Ross is a professional horticulturist, garden designer, writer, researcher, and presenter with Gardening Australia. An innovative gardener with an unconventional approach, Millie specialises in creative construction and using plants in unusual ways. Author of The Thrifty Gardener; a practical guide to building the garden you want with whatever you’ve got, Millie aims to get everyone planting, growing and celebrating trees!

Renee Cawthorne, Project Manager of the Aboriginal Strategy and First Nations Engagement, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Dr Ann Jones is an ABC Science journalist and presenter, with a history PhD and a love of nature and its noises. She presents ABC TV’s Catalyst including the special Australia’s Favourite Tree, Radio National’s What the Duck?!, ABC Kids’ Noisy by Nature, and the short films How Deadly.

Media contacts:

  • Laura Boland, laura@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 166 426
  • Jane Watkins, jane@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0425 803 204

Australia’s Favourite Tree: Top 10 (A-Z)

  • Boab (Adansonia gregorii)
  • Ghost gum (Corymbia aparrerinja)
  • Golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
  • Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
  • Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor)
  • Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla)
  • Mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans)
  • Red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia)
  • River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
  • Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)

Trees that didn’t make the cut (most to least popular)

  1. Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii)
  2. Gungurru (Eucalyptus caesia)
  3. Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis)
  4. Sydney red gum (Angophora costata)
  5. Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
  6. Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)
  7. Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii)
  8. Deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii)
  9. Weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis)
  10. Macadamia tree (Macadamia integrifolia)
  11. Queensland bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris)
  12. Red cedar (Toona ciliata)
  13. Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)
  14. River sheoak (Casuarina cunninghamiana)
  15. Coastal tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum)
  16. Quandong (Santalum acuminatum)
  17. Grey mangrove (Avicennia marina)
  18. Cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla)
  19. Coolabah (Eucalyptus coolabah)
  20. Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta)
  21. Mulga wattle (Acacia aneura)
  22. Darwin woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata)
  23. Red cabbage palm (Livistona mariae)

Quotes from tree experts available for media use

Quote attributed to Geoff Booth, Manager Operations, Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, SA.

“I love trees and especially large gnarly old growth Eucalyptus because they have character; just like an old wine, they get better with age. The older they get, the more than can provide – habitat, water retention, shade and protection.”

Quote attributed to Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

“At last, trees are given the same respect as the birds that perch in them! This is a celebration of the many roles native trees play in our lives – from home and habitat for wildlife through to the clean air and oxygen we all need to survive. Essential to life, and beautiful too.”

Quotes attributed to John Arnott, Manager Horticulture at Australian Native Garden, Vic.

“Trees have an important role of sequestering carbon in the atmosphere, and store vast amounts of carbon for centuries. They also provide the food, shelter and homes for so much of our native wildlife.”

“It’s almost impossible to see a ‘perfect’ Eucalyptus leaf – there are scars from invertebrate grazing, chewing and sucking, and there are the tell-tale signs of possum or koala browsing. It’s a food source. But overseas, Eucalypt trees present very differently because their leaves are close to perfect – there are different or fewer insects, birds and mammals that eat them.”

“There’s a tree that I cycle past every day on my way to work, a Red Gum. I’ve looked at it consciously for 35 years. It fell over in a storm perhaps 50 years earlier (or more) and is now resting in a paddock on the ground. It is lying horizontal but still has some connectivity to the ground through a slither of the trunk and its roots. It has been throwing up new shoots and has persisted. Its resilience is remarkable.”

Quotes attributed to Peter Feilen, Horticulturist, Australian National Botanic Gardens, ACT.

“In an urban context, trees reduce noise pollution; reduce summer heat; reduce air pollution; and soften the visuals of a hard urban landscape. A direct correlation between trees and an improved level of general and mental health has also been found.

“Personally, as an arborist and botanical gardens horticulturist I am privileged to have a very close relationship with trees; propagating, growing, planting and even climbing, which I probably love the most.”

“Trees will continue to play an important role mitigating climate change, by absorbing carbon to make wood. However, trees are also victims of climate change and other human activity, such as development and introduction of invasive species and diseases. They need our help.”

“In the 2015 Global Tree Assessment it was found that 30 per cent of tree species are threatened with extinction, and at least 142 tree species are recorded as extinct. Essentially, the message is that we need trees and trees need us.”