by Tobi Loftus
ONE of the rarest plants in Australia was on sale at the Wondai Garden Expo.
Geoff Robinson, from Caboolture's Lotusbird Gardens, was at the expo selling the Greg's Wompi.
"It's like a bush lychee,” Mr Robinson said.
"There are some conflicting views of how many are left in the wild.
"Some say there is only one left in the wild near Hervey Bay, others say there are two in Bundaberg and four in Hervey Bay.”
Mr Robinson was selling four of the plants, also known as Clausena smyrelliana, which he had grown from seed.
"We only discovered the plant recently,” he said.
"A few of us are propagating it when we get it. We're trying to repopulate south-east Queensland with them again.”
He said people who wanted to grow the plant in the South Burnett would need to be cautious.
"You'd need to protect them here as they are like a lychee and lychee needs protection,” he said.
"They're a tropical plant, so in the South Burnett they'll grow on the side of a ridge.
"If people want to grow them, put them on the top of a ridge with shrub.”
Mr Robinson said while some nurseries were now growing the plant, none had been released back into the wild.
"I've got one at home in the garden, which I've had for three years,” he said.
"The recent chronic heat and heavy rained knocked every flower off it so I got no fruit this season.
"So hopefully it will be ready next year as each fruit will produce on or two seeds which I'll be able to share as a few more plants in the future.”
Mr Robinson said to anyone looking to start a new garden native trees were the way to go.
"Native trees are meant to be here,” he said.
"If they go for an exotic tree, a lot of exotic trees are climatising to our summer, wind and winter.
"The safe bet is if you want to put in a pioneering species, you start with native trees and then go with your exotic trees.
"You plant the exotic ones around the fringes.”
Mr Robinson said he had been attending the Wondai Garden Expo for about two decades.
"I enjoy the people I meet, I have customers who without fail come and touch base every year,” he said.
"It's probably almost as much social for me as it is for a revenue perspective.”
Mr Robinson also regularly sells his plants at the Nanango Markets.