Alloxylon flammeum

Tree Waratah / Red Silky Oak

Family: Proteaceae

A tree growing to 30 metres tall, spreading to 10 or so metres wide – often much smaller in cultivation. 

It is native and endemic to far northern Queensland – growing mostly on the Atherton Tablelands – from as far south as Koombooloomba Forest Reserve (south of Millstream), north to a line between Cairns and Biboohra and to slightly west of Atherton / Tolga. 

It is usually found at higher altitudes, about 700-800 metres AHD, in tropical rainforest and disturbed rainforest edges as well as vine thickets – often on basalt or granite- based soils. 

Alloxylon spp. have leaves that are generally considered simple but with juvenile leaves lobed or divided to such an extent as to appear compound, arranged alternately. In this species, juvenile leaves are heavily lobed – pinnatisect to pinnate; to 20 cm long by 10 cm wide, with long lobes containing a midvein – angled at about 45° off the main vein; mid to dark green (somewhat similar to leaves of Stenocarpus sinuatus); adult leaves are entire – generally oblanceolate to elongated-elliptic, to 25 cm long and 5 cm wide.

Alloxylon spp. have inflorescences referred to as “conflorescences” which are actually made up of clustered racemes (of false racemes) of pair flowers, fused together. Unlike Waratahs (Telopea spp.), the flowers are not surrounded by an involucre (overlapping whorls) of enlarged leafy-bracts. Each flower is a typical Proteaceae flower with a perianth of 4 tepals, 4 anthers and 1 carpel. In this species, the flowers, including the pedicels, are up to about 7 cm long and with a tubular shape; occurring in terminals and axillary clusters of over 100 flowers with the clusters to about 8 cm in diameter; bright-red to orange-red in colour; appearing mainly in spring.

The fruit of Alloxylon is a follicle. In this species, they are up to 10 cm long – generally boat-shaped and splitting down one side; seeds have a wing – several centimetres long. 

In the garden

This has been a very popular plant in the garden and can be grown as far south as Sydney and possibly further south. 

It does very well as a feature plant in a park or large garden and there are some very nice specimens in Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.  

It grows naturally on enriched soils so it likes a well-composted soil with enrichment and reliable drainage – in semi-shade or morning sun only.

Very useful for a feature tree and specimen planting. 

Is tolerant of moderate frost. It will likely suffer in heavy frost. It can handle dry conditions but will flower better with supplementary watering. 

This is a spectacular plant under the right conditions and with correct management.


Best method is to use cuttings of hardened new growth. Seed can work well but is often hard to obtain. 

Other information

Fire response is unknown as it grows in wet to drier tropical rainforest. May be able to regenerate from seed as well as from reshooting stem buds. 

Alloxylon is a genus of 4 species of trees. Two species are endemic to Queensland; one occurs in northern NSW-Queensland and the other is in New Guinea. 

Alloxylonfrom Greek allos (ἄλλος) meaning “other” or “different” and –xylon (ξύλο) – meaning “wood” – referring to the unique or unusual wood of the genus – which resembles oak but is very different from other Proteaceae members. 

flammeum – Latin – meaning “flaming” or “flame-coloured” – referring to the colour of the inflorescences.  

This species is listed as threatened at the Commonwealth and Queensland level with the category of vulnerable. 

Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) – Alloxylon flammeum profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/alloxylon-flammeum/ 

Gardening with Angus – Alloxylon flammeum profile page    https://gardeningwithangus.com.au/alloxylon-flameum-tree-waratah/ 

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.