At my front gate, I have a silver princess gum tree (eucalyptus caesia) growing and at this time of year it’s especially pretty.
It’s called “silver princess” because it’s beautiful and it really is silver, at least the bark and the old gum nuts are gorgeously silver. You could be forgiven for thinking someone has sprayed the gum nuts with silver paint, but it’s all entirely natural.
First the little pear-shaped buds form, — you can see them in the photo — then the flowers open (and the birds and bees love them), then after a while they fall off, leaving that little bell-shaped remnant cap, which also falls off eventually and dot the ground like tiny pixie caps.
When I was young, I used to make tiny dolls out of the gum nuts and the little flower caps of gum tree blossoms. Like most Australian kids I grew up reading the stories about the gum nut babies, by May Gibbs. ( Do a google image search for May Gibbs gumnut babies and you’ll see hundreds of really cute little illustrations.)
Finally the gum nuts form and they’re pure silver, ready to be picked for Christmas decoration — no paint needed.
You can see the silver gum nuts here. It’s not a very good photo — it looks as if it’s a black and white photo, but I took it this evening against a grey winter sky, and silver and grey doesn’t show up well. But you get the idea.