CR David Pahlke with Tyler Derkson, Lyla Rossow, Trey Derkson, Travis Derkson and Harley Nowland.

It was too big for one family, but it’s just the right size for the entire community.

It was an overgrown pest when it was removed from the front yard of a One Mile home in February. Bottle trees grow up to 20m in height and the thick barrel-like truck expands up to 3.5m wide. The owners said the expanding foliage was overcrowding them and donated the tree to the Ipswich City Council while they could still access their front door. The council agreed to remove and replant the tree at Sarah Drive Park at Yamanto to provide much needed shade and some extra appeal. Since its relocation, Councillor David Pahlke said the bottle tree had taken on a life of its own. “The tree has a natural indented smile which includes two eyes and a nose, so we got a local artist to put a friendly face on it,” Cr Pahlke said. “I am now calling the tree the ‘Hug Me Tree’ due to its shape and face and have erected signs to give the history of the tree.

“The Yamanto community has really taken it to heart. “I’ve had a lot of positive comments and the kids in particular live it and identify with it”. Cr Pahlke said the tree was an unusual plant that had a distinctive bottle-shaped trunk. “The tree’s shape becomes more pronounced as it ages and gives it a remarkable appearance and rise to the name,” he said. “It will now act as the centrepiece of the Sarah Drive Park for many years to come.” Bottle trees bear bell-shaped yellow flowers in late spring which are followed by woody seeds. The name can be taken literally as there is a significant amount of water stored between the inner bark and the trunk. The seeds, roots, stems, and bark have all traditionally been a source of food for people and animals alike. The fibrous inner bark can be used to make twine or ripe and can even be woven together to make fishing nets. It is sometimes difficult to determine the age of a bottle tree because the tree has a fibrous trunk and therefore no age rings which can be counted. The approximate age can be determined by the girth of the tree.

Cr Pahlke said the tree was very tough and could be kept out of the ground for up to three months before transplanting. “The tree can tolerate a variety of climates and soil types and can live for several hundred years,” he said. “In terms of its horticultural benefits the trees serve not only as an ornamental feature but also provide wind and shade protection.

   CR David Pahlke and sisters Summer and Savannah ROSSOW


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