Distribution and habitat
It is found from central Queensland to the vicinity of Ulladulla in southern New South Wales.
The cheese tree grows in both clay and sandy soils, and is found in rainforest and wetter areas in sclerophyll forest.
The name "cheese tree" comes from its fruit's resemblance to small cheese wheels. The fruit opens to reveal showy bright red seeds from November to April.
It grows as a woody shrub or small tree to 8m, although occasionally reaching 30m, and has a flaky brownish-grey bark. It has simple alternate-arranged elliptical leaves 3-10 cm in length and 1.5-4 cm wide.
Flowering may occur at any time of year; the cheese tree has both single female and male flowers, which are found in groups of three. Both sexes are green-yellow, with the male flowers about 0.7 cm and the female 0.5 cm in diameter. The most notable feature are the small pumpkin-shaped fruit, which are green at first before turning shades of white and pink. Divided into segments radially, they eventually split open to reveal the seeds.
Glochidion ferdinandi presumably is dependent on leafflower moths (Epicephala spp.) for its pollination, like other species of tree in the genus Glochidion.
The fast growing habit makes it a good shade tree, street and specimen tree and it is a good nesting site for birds.
The dried fruits are found in potpourri and sold as "putka pods".
The fruits are eaten by several bird species that live and visit Centennial Parklands, including the Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti), Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus), White-headed Pigeon (Columba leucomela), Topknot Pigeon (Lopholaimus antarcticus), and Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis). The Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) also eats the fruit but regurgitates them, while new leafy growth is eaten by the Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus).
Where to see the Cheese Tree in Centennial Parklands.
Centennial Homestead, corner of Parkes Drive and Grand Drive