Ceratopetalum gummiferum, the New South Wales Christmas Bush, is a tall shrub or small tree popular in cultivation. The shrub starts flowering in November. The young flowers are creamy white in colour and later turn to reddish orange. The reddish orange structures are sepals not petals. The sepals turn bright red-pink around Christmas time. The petals are inconspicuous and slit into narrow segments. After the flower sets fruit, the sepals enlarge to about 12 mm and become red in colour, the display peaking at Christmas time.
Leaves: 3-foliated (comprising three leaflets), opposite, thin, fairly soft, finely toothed, hairless. The length can be up to 8 cm long. The petioles are grooved on the upper side and are 10 to 20 mm long.
The shrub produces gum in the stem. This is how the shrub is named Ceratopetalum gummiferum. When the bark is cut, gum is discharged.
The beautiful bouquets have been used as a decoration since early colonial times. ‘For some days before Christmas, in our drives near the town, we used to meet numbers of persons carrying bundles of a beautiful native shrub, to decorate the houses, in the same manner that we use holly and evergreens at home…’ Historical Records of NSW, letter dated 18 Nov 1788.
“Advent in Australia reveals our land in blossom. Nature bursts forth in a spectrum of colour: the blues and purples of jacaranda and bush flowers, the red of Christmas Bush and the flame tree, the reds and the greens of new gum-tree growth. And the sun climbs up in the sky and burns with intensity.
People, too, may see a change of season, not just in the world around us but deep in the heart and soul. We await a new season of grace to drive away the darkness of fear, selfishness and sin” Advent Liturgy of Light, 2015
Drawings of the Christmas bush
The botanical drawing shows more features than the photograph above. A good botanical drawing can show more vividly the beauty of the flowers. Photography cannot replace drawing and painting. In close up photography, some parts of the image are sharp and clear but other parts may be blurry. Drawing does not not have this narrow depth-of-field problem.
More details can be put into a drawing to emphasize some important features of the botanical specimen as in the following drawing found in Wikipedia.
Morley, B.D. & Toelken, H.R. (1983) Flowering Plants in Australia, Rigby Publishers (ISBN 0 7270 1477 3
Blombery, A. M (1973) What Wildflower is That? Summits Book (ISBN 0 7271 0109 9)