Cardwellia is a genus of a sole described species of large trees in the plant family Proteaceae. The species Cardwellia sublimis (northern silky oak) is endemic to the rainforests of the wet tropics region of northeastern Queensland, Australia. Other common names include bull oak, golden spanglewood, lacewood, oak and oongaary.[1] The compound leaves have up to 17 leaflets. It produces white inflorescences followed by woody fruits which are prominently displayed outside the canopy.[2]

Northern silky oak
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Proteaceae
Subfamily: Grevilleoideae
Tribe: Macadamieae
Subtribe: Gevuininae
Genus: Cardwellia
C. sublimis
Binomial name
Cardwellia sublimis

Taxonomy and namingEdit

Ferdinand von Mueller named the genus in honour of Edward Cardwell, who had been Secretary of State for the Colonies from 1864 to 1866. The species name is the Latin adjective sublimis "lofty".[3] The type specimen was collected by John Dallachy in Rockingham Bay. Its everyday name in the local Dyirbal language was jungan, though a more general word gurruŋun "oak tree" (also applied to Darlingia ferruginea and Helicia australasica) was used in the taboo [Dyalŋuy] vocabulary.[4]

Molecular analysis indicates Cardwellia sublimis is a member of the subtribe Gevuininae,[5] and is the earliest offshoot from the main ancestor of the other genera. It is thought to have separated around 35 million years ago in the late Eocene.[6]


Cardwellia sublimis grows as a tall, often emergent, tree in its native rainforest habitat, reaching 30 m (100 ft) in height, though likely to only grow half this size in cultivation.[3] The bark is thin,[7] and there is no buttressing.[3] The initial leaves are entire but juvenile leaves are generally pinnate and large, reaching 65 cm (26 in) long.[3] They are composed of 3 to 10 pairs of oval to oblong leaflets, each of which is 9–18 cm (3.5–7.1 in) long and 4–7 cm (1.6–2.8 in) wide.[8] Flowering is profuse, and the canopy can be covered with the cream-white flowerheads in late spring and summer.[3] The inflorescences are 9–16 cm (3.5–6.3 in) long. The flowers are followed by woody oval follicles, which are 8–11 cm (3.1–4.3 in) long and 5–6 cm (2.0–2.4 in) wide and contain 8 to 12 winged seeds each.[8]

Distribution and habitatEdit

Cardwellia sublimis grows naturally in wet tropics rainforests between Townsville and Cooktown from sea level to an altitude of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).[8]

Uses and cultivationEdit

Cardwellia sublimis has potential as a specimen tree in parks, and has showy flowers and follicles. It is readily propagated from seed and has been grown successfully in Melbourne.[3] It is a valuable timber tree in Queensland, which is easy to work with and shows an attractive grain similar to that of oak.[7] It is used for cabinet and veneer work.[8] Attempts to grow Cardwellia sublimis in plantations have not been very successful.[7]


  1. ^ "Cardwellia". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
  2. ^ "Cardwellia sublimis". James Cook University. Archived from the original on 2008-07-26. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Wrigley, John; Fagg, Murray (1991). Banksias, Waratahs and Grevilleas. Sydney: Angus & Robertson. pp. 126–27. ISBN 0-207-17277-3.
  4. ^ Dixon, Robert Malcolm Ward (1990). "The Origin of "Mother-in-Law Vocabulary" in Two Australian Languages". Anthropological Linguistics. 32 (1/2): 1–56. JSTOR 30028138.
  5. ^ Weston, Peter H.; Barker, Nigel P. (2006). "A new suprageneric classification of the Proteaceae, with an annotated checklist of genera" (PDF). Telopea. 11 (3): 314–344. doi:10.7751/telopea20065733. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-02.
  6. ^ Mast, Austin R.; Willis, Crystal L.; Jones, Eric H.; Downs, Katherine M.; Weston, Peter H. (July 2008). "A smaller Macadamia from a more vagile tribe: inference of phylogenetic relationships, divergence times, and diaspore evolution in Macadamia and relatives (tribe Macadamieae; Proteaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 95 (7): 843–870. doi:10.3732/ajb.0700006. ISSN 1537-2197. PMID 21632410. Retrieved 4 Apr 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Hyland, B. P. M.; Whiffin, T.; Zich, F. A.; et al. (Dec 2010). "Factsheet – Cardwellia sublimis". Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants. Edition 6.1, online version [RFK 6.1]. Cairns, Australia: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), through its Division of Plant Industry; the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research; the Australian Tropical Herbarium, James Cook University. Retrieved 6 Apr 2013.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. ^ a b c d "Cardwellia sublimis". Flora of Australia Online. Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australian Government.