This time of year I always see a large tree that is covered in gold:
That tree was on the property where I was doing a home inspection yesterday. It’s a silkoak (Grevillea robusta). The leaves look like an oak but it actually is not an oak. The Grevillea genus is in the Proteaceae family, which generally has pretty spectacular flowers looking something like this:
I never would have put the silkoak (also called “southern silky oak,” “silky-oak,” and “Australian silver-oak”) and proteas together without the help of my gardening library.
Grevillea robusta might lead you to believe that the tree is robust, and it is, being the largest plant in the Grevillea genus.
It is native to the east coast of Australia and is a very fast-growing evergreen tree. Its wood is resistant to root and was used to make furniture, fences, and window frames. Australia now has significant restrictions on harvesting the tree.
The flowers and fruit contain hydrogen cyanide, an extremely poisonous liquid known historically as Prussic acid. The tree also contains tridecylresorcinol which can cause severe cases of contact dermititis.
I guess cutting some flowers for the kitchen table is out of the question.