It is native to a very small area of south coastal Western Australia (measured in just tens of kilometres) to the east of Walpole (430 km Southeast of Perth), but is not considered under threat in the wild. In nature Corymbia ficifolia prefers infertile, sandy soils but it is readily adaptable to most temperate locations, provided it is not exposed to severe frost or sustained tropical damp.
It is an ideal street tree as it is hardy, moderately fast growing, and rarely grows large enough to require pruning. The largest known single-stemmed tree in the world (216.5 cm diameter) is located on Princes Street in Hamilton, New Zealand. Because of its big and lovely colourful flowers, genetic improvement for cold resistance in Dublin area in Ireland is being carrying out by collecting seeds from Western and Southern Australia in the coldest parts of Australia where it grows. In Ireland most of the plants were killed by severe frosts but the surviving shoots have been kept by tissue culture.
It is difficult to graft but grows well from seed, typically taking about 7 years before it flowers for the first time and 15–20 years to reach something approaching its full size of anything between 2–8 m. For the home gardener, buying a "red flowering gum" from a nursery is something of an adventure: it may or may not be a ficifolia, and the flower colour does not breed true - there is no way to find out what colour the flowers will be short of planting a seedling and waiting for it to reach maturity! But one does get a wonderful surprise if pink or orange blooms appear...
We saw this lovely specimen at its very blooming best during our Christmas morning walk around the neighbourhood. Merry Christmas to all!
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.