Kind to Wildlife: 2 Weird and Wonderful Ornamental Trees That Are More Than Just a Pretty Face

If you're heading down to a local plant wholesaler in search of plants to enhance the beauty of your garden, ornamental trees are an excellent choice. In addition to being pleasing to the eye, they add structure to a garden and can provide much-needed shade. If you want to make more than just a statement with your planting, here are two weirdly wonderful ornamental trees that are more than just a pretty face—they'll also attract some wildlife to your garden.

Pseudobombax Ellipticum

Commonly known as the shaving bush tree, Pseudobombax Ellipticum is beautiful, unusual looking and fast-growing. A native of Southern Mexico and Central America, this deciduous tree can grow to 20 metres in height. It provides excellent shade and is a real beauty when in bloom. The leaves offer superb colour, starting off as a deep maroon before turning green. Flowers appear at the end of branches from late winter to early spring and are, depending on the type you choose, pink or white. The flowers form a shaving brush shape with curled petals framing threadlike, gold-tipped stamens that grow up to 15 cm long. These flowers are natural works of art. The stamens wave hypnotically in the wind, and when a light is shone on them at night, they take on a beautiful luminescence in the darkness. Not just a pretty face, this gorgeous tree produces a delicate nectar loved by bees, birds and bats.

Kigelia Africana

Commonly known as the African Sausage Tree, Kigelia Africana is a native of tropical East Africa. This tree is ideal for a large garden where shade is needed. Its common name comes from the spectacular fruit that it bears in adulthood—the giant, sausage-shaped fruits can weigh several kilograms and grow up to 1 metre in length and 20 cm in width. This semi-deciduous tree can reach heights of 25 metres and produces long, dangling sprays of flowers in an intense velvety red with exterior yellow veins. The sausage-shaped fruits are not edible raw, but when baked, dried or fermented can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The plant has been used for the treatment of a variety of skin complaints including skin cancer and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. The fruit has several natural steroidal chemicals that are used in shampoos and face creams. These bizarre but beautiful ornamental trees are loved by bats, who stick their heads into the giant flowers to feed on their nectar.