One of the Best Street Trees: Buckinghamia celsissima

This is Buckinghamia celsissima or the Ivory Curl tree, it is another small to medium tree that is in flower over the summer months, chances are you have seen it around, it is VERY hard to miss. I saw this one on a street in Mosman, I think it was planted by a resident as there weren’t any others in the street, I also wondered if someone had pruned it to have such a clean trunk…?


Buckinghamia celsissima occurs naturally in north eastern QLD, however they grow quite well on the NSW coast as long as there aren’t any frosts. In its natural rainforest habitat it will grow very tall to break through the canopy and reach the light, however the further south they are found and the colder the climate the smaller they grow, here in the Sydeny region you can expect them to be a maximum height of about 6 – 8 metres.


The flowers are very like a Grevillea spike flower and attract the bees with their prolific nectar, the flowers are almost 30cm long and cause the branches to drop down giving the tree a weeping habit.


When not in flower the leaves are quite stunning also, they have a beautiful bronze tinge in the new growth and the juvenile leave are deeply divided. Buckinghamia celsissima makes an excellent screening plant and also a good small shade tree, it will grow in shade but not flower particularly well. I would love to see more planted in our suburban Sydney streets.

19 thoughts on “One of the Best Street Trees: Buckinghamia celsissima

  1. These are being planted prolifically by the council in Brisbane and, like you, I feel relief when a council gets it right. We have been rewarded over this last summer with Ivory Curls in full bloom, and looking beautiful.

  2. Shirl-ann Blake on

    I love this tree , where can I buy one I live in Perth WA is it possible for me to import a small one ? And what do I do about quarantine. Any one have any ideas

  3. Nan Bailey on

    These a really beautiful trees but they can grow quite tall. I had one in my front garden in Kuranda north Queensland, not far behind the power lines, but not underneath either. I came home one day to find the electricity company had cut it down at ground level, because it was a “danger to the continued power supply during the cyclone season”. I was livid, but it was too late. The tree did regrow, and became multi trunked with a horrible shape

    • Amy on

      Do you know where. Im planting a couple in Newcastle for privacy and wondered how they would form as they matured.

      • Kath Gadd on

        Hi Amy,

        they have a very dense canopy so should work really well for a privacy screen, provided you are trying to screen high up? from around 1.5 metres up?

        Best Wishes,


  4. Gail Black on

    My tree is getting too tall for its position. If I have it heavily pruned back to bare branches, will it re-grow again? Am worried I’ll lose its lovely round shape. Usually only prune back behind spent blooms. Appreciate advice.

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Gail,

      Yes, Buckinghamia celsissima respond vey well to pruning, you can take of around 30% and it will increase the density of its canopy.

      Best Wishes,


  5. Dianne Burgess on

    My Ivory Curl hedge is about 15 years old and the leaves are dying off leaving gapping holes in the canapy. The lilli pilles are doing the same. Any solutions to save my trees.

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Dianne,

      Whereabouts are you located? have you checked for borer or caterpillar attack?
      I would give them all a tree tablet fertiliser and several deep waters over the next few weeks. Also giving them a prune should help encourage a new flush of growth.

      Best Wishes,


  6. Tina on

    Can anyone tell me if they are messy trees as I am thinking of planting one in a cemetery. Do the flowers look messy when they fall off and die at all? And where it will be planted is in line with a automatic sprinkler so does it thrive in a lot of watering?

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Tina,

      All trees will drop leaves and spent flowers and due to the extra large size of this trees flowers it can create a bit of mess.
      Buckinghamia celsissima doesn’t love water though and should be happy under the sprinter as long as your soil is well drained.

      Best Wishes,


  7. I want to grow some trees for privacy from the neighbours. Their property is one metre higher than ours and they have a second story deck. I’m guessing I’d need a height of about 5 metres and a narrow spread as it will be close to their bouondry and the ground is clay. I am just north of Newcastle on the coast. Will this tree work and if not can you recommend something preferably native which will also attracted birds.
    Thank you

    • Kath Gadd on

      Hi Trish,

      I think the Buckinghamia would work, however it is not particularly narrow in habit.
      You might also like to consider Eleaocarpus reticulatus, Eleaocarpus eumndi, Ceratopetalum gummiferum, Randia fitzalanii or Acronychia oblongifolia.

      Hope this helps,

      Best Wishes,


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