top of page

Plant identification guides:
Bush tucker food forest

Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


As with all medicinal applications of Australian bush foods, please do your due diligence and consult with First Nations or other Australian herbal specialists before utilising as a remedy for any condition.


Some parts of the plant may not be edible or some may need preparation before they are safe to eat or use in any way. We do our best to describe their traditional & modern uses. It is the reader’s responsibility to ensure they are fit for their intended use.


We can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Fairhill gold

Scientific name:

Other Names:

Xanthostemon chrysanthus

Golden penda, River Penda; Johnstone River Penda


Myrtaceae (Myrtle family, related to the Gums, Bottle Brush’s and Tea Trees.)

Fairhill gold

Basic info:

Fairhill gold is a medium-sized rainforest tree found in the coastal rainforests of north Queensland from Townsville north to Cape York.

The tree may reach 20 metres in its natural environment but is usually smaller (12 metres x 10 metres spread) in cultivation. The ‘Fairhill Gold’ cultivar of Golden penda will only grow to a height of 3 metres and a spread of 2 metres.

It’s an Australian native that is related to eucalypts and bottlebrushes and produces masses of amazing yellow flowers in summer and autumn, or after periods of significant rainfall. The tree is a breathtaking sight in full bloom. There are hundreds of spidery golden yellow flowers, grouped in dense spherical terminal heads up to 15 cm in diameter. In sub-tropical and tropical areas it flowers reliably, and often within two or three years. Often grows along creek banks.

These flowers are a bountiful supply of nectar for many birds.

The bark is rough and scaly. The foliage is very attractive, changing from the multi-lobed juvenile leaf to a simple elliptical shape as the tree matures. The flowers occur in clusters near the ends of the branches; they are bright yellow and very conspicuous. The stamens are the principal feature of the flowers (similar to bottlebrushes).

The flowers are followed by fruits, about 1 cm in diameter, with four segments. The fruit is not edible.

Its genus name is derived from Greek ‘xantho’ and Latin ‘stamen’, meaning ‘yellow thread’. The species epithet is derived from Greek words ‘khrusos’ (gold), and ‘anthos’ (flower).

Uses and Interesting Information:

Bark and leaf extracts are known to be anti-bacterial, [1] and the plant has uses in folk medicine in South-East Asia for purifying the blood; for liver and pulmonary complaints.[2]

The timber is very strong, and indigenous peoples made spears, shields and digging sticks from it.

Right from pioneering days, it was harvested for use in local bridge building, and this continued until most of its natural habitat was World Heritage Listed in the 1980s.

It is the floral emblem of the city of Cairns, and was selected as the theme plant for Expo 88, held in Brisbane. Cuttings of the tree were taken from a garden in Brisbane and planted in flower in to create a 'Sea of Gold' for the Expo. In late autumn, the tree can still be seen in flower in gardens and lining streets across Brisbane.


[1] Monton Visutthi  (2016) “Anti-bacterial and Anti-quorum Sensing Properties of Selected Medicinal Plants from Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand”, Science and Technology RMUTT Journal, Vol 6, No 1.




bottom of page