Plant of the Month.
The Examiner newspaper and their garden scribe Les Hodge have developed
a “Native Plant of the Month” which appears in Les’ garden page
in the Saturday Examiner prior to our meeting on the third Tuesday
each month. The article features a different native plant’ botanical
details and is illustrated with a large coloured photo of the plant
selected. It creates a lot of interest in plants that otherwise
would not be so well known. On Les’ page he also gives our group
invaluable publicity about our meeting the following Tuesday.
These are some of the Plant of the Month articles.
Click here to view 2010 'Plants of the Month'
Click here to view 2011 'Plants of the Month'
Click here to view 2012 'Plants of the Month'
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR JANUARY 2010
What is the common link between the following: sunflowers, lettuce, chrysanthemum, dahlia and artichoke? If you said they are all members of the daisy family then you are right. This huge family, with the scientific name Asteraceae, contains something like 20000 species worldwide, in about 1000 genera and includes many species of economic importance (and some of the worst weeds).
The former family name, “Compositae”, provided a clue to the characteristic feature of these plants, which is that all of them have composite flower heads. What we think of as the flower is actually a cluster of tiny flowers (known as florettes) in some species only a small number but in others, such as the cultivated sunflower, hundreds of florettes. You can see the individual florettes if you use a magnifying glass or microscope. Each of the tiny florettes produces its own seed which is often attached to a feathery pappus which everyone knows as thistle down (see insert in photo). The pappus along with the attached seed is capable of travelling long distances when a wind is blowing, which explains why many members of this family can spread so quickly.
In Tasmania there are dozens of native members of this family, ranging from quite large trees to tiny herbs. In between these extremes there are medium size shrubs and several beautiful species which would be described as paper daisies.
The flower heads of these paper daisies range in size from just under a centimetre in diameter to about 4cm diameter. Their colours in the Tasmanian species are white or golden yellow but many of the buds are also attractively coloured e.g. pink or orange.
Paper daisies are generally very hardy, as indicated by the fact that large colonies of some native species survive along our roadsides, flowering for long periods in spring and summer in some very harsh environments.
Some species can be induced to flower twice in one year by cutting them back after the first flowering is completed.
Propagation is easy from seed – just collect the thistle down before it flies away, making sure that the seeds are still attached. By buying just a few plants from a nursery and propagating from these you can have a wonderful display within a couple of years.
(The species shown in the photo is Xerochrysum bracteatum or golden everlasting which has flower heads up to about 4cm across. The inset shows the feathery pappus with the seed attached below it.)
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR FEBRUARY 2010
NATIVE HOP BUSHES
Native plants formed much of the diet of aboriginal people before white settlement. Early European explorers and settlers often sought to supplement an inadequate or boring diet by experimenting with native plants or by following the example of the local aborigines. The leaves of many plants have been used as “greens”, replacing spinach or silver beet and the fruit and leaves of many species have provided nourishment and flavour.
The genus Dodonaea has the common name, hop bushes, because the fruit of some species have been used in place of hops in beer- making.
The fruit also contain chemicals called saponins which are effective surfactants and the fruit have been used in place of soap, hence the name of the family to which the genus belongs is Sapindaceae which literally means “Indian soap”. The family contains many species of commercial significance including
lychees and rambutans.
In Tasmania we have two native species of hop bush one of which, Dodonaea filiformis (fineleaf hopbush) is endemic to Tasmania while the other, D. Viscosa (broadleaf hopbush) is widespread in temperate regions of the world.
Both Tasmanian species are excellent garden plants, hardy and tolerant of a wide range of conditions although good drainage and at least part sun are necessary.
D. filiformis is a shrub to about 3m tall while D. Viscosa grows to about 5m in height and could be described as a small tree. The flowers of hopbushes are fairly insignificant with the male and female flowers growing on separate plants. The three-winged fruit, which are green initially, turn quite a bright orange-red as they mature and from a distance it looks as though the plant is covered in flowers. Remember that fruit will occur only on female trees. The foliage of both Tasmanian species is attractive and plants of both species are fairly slender and well shaped. An attractive purple-leaved form of D. Viscosa, often referred to as D.v. var purpurea is available.
Hop bushes can be propagated easily from cuttings and some species can be grown from seed.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR MARCH 2010
One of the most striking sights in the arid areas of central Western Australia is the magnificent Sturts Desert pea, Swainsonia formosa. While you will not find it in the Tasmanian bush, it can be grown here very successfully in a container. A pot of this species with its large, brilliant crimson flowers is a wonderful substitute for a vase of cut flowers. A few pots on the sun-deck makes a great display. Flowers are produced over a period of several weeks if suitable conditions are maintained.
The first European to collect the plant was William Dampier, when he visited West Australia in 1699. An attempt has been made to honour Dampier with a change to the scientific name of the sturts desert pea. As yet the change has not been widely accepted.
As the common name suggests, this species is a member of the huge pea family (Fabaceae) with its thousands of members, many of which have great commercial significance as food plants, forage plants or as ornamentals.
Sturts desert pea is the floral emblem of South Australia but also grows in arid areas of WA, NT, QLD and NSW.
While the flowers, five to seven centimetres long, each with its two black “eyes”, are the most striking feature of this species, the grey-green pinnate leaves (several leaflets to a feather-like leaf) are also attractive.
Sturts desert pea has been grown successfully in Northern Tasmania by planting scarified seed (seed treated with hot water or scratched with sandpaper or a knife) directly into potting mix in a container. Use a largish pot so that transplanting is unnecessary as this species does not like root disturbance.
The scarified seeds germinate quite quickly and rapidly develop deep roots, a trait necessary for survival in their normal habitat. The plants need full sun, a sheltered position and good drainage although they do best with regular watering.
Seeds and plants of Sturts Desert pea can sometimes be obtained from local nurseries; otherwise seeds can be ordered from suppliers in other states. Reputable suppliers will have arranged approval from Quarantine Tasmania before delivery to you.
Websites such as www.nativegrowth.com.au and www.wildflowersofaus.com.au offer seeds of this species and others.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR APRIL 2010
Bursaria Spinosa – Prickly Box
This beautiful but much underrated relative of the common garden plant, Pittosporum undulatum, has a very interesting natural history.
The generic name comes from the Greek word bursa which means purse and refers to the shape of the seed capsules. The specific name spinosa, as you might guess, refers to the spines which appear on young growth, providing protection for the plant itself and for birds nesting in it.
Prickly box deserves to be a feature of gardens simply because of its beautiful and plentiful white starry flowers which appear late in summer and attract large numbers of insects which feed on nectar; birds (which may feed on nectar or on the insects) are also attracted. Birds also benefit from the spider webs built in the prickly box to catch the myriad of insects; several species of birds use the webs in constructing their nests.
Among insects hosted by this species is a small wasp which helps control Christmas beetles by parasitising their larvae; (Christmas Beetle causes great devastation to Eucalypt species). Prickly box is also the essential food source for the Bright Copper Butterfly caterpillar. The caterpillars have a symbiotic relationship with ants; the caterpillar secretes a honey-like product which is eaten by the ants which protect the caterpillars from predators.
Prickly box has an interesting connection with World War 2. A sun screening chemical, aesculin, was produced from its leaves and used to protect turret gunners who were exposed to long periods of sunlight during bombing raids over Europe.
European and Californian horticulturalists have landscaped with prickly box for over a hundred years. Its highly scented flowers and its attractive bark, leaves and seed capsules (which are useful in floral arrangements) make it a delightful specimen plant. It also makes a useful hedging plant, growing to a height of about 3m and is an ideal replacement for hawthorn and other introduced species which are likely to become weedy.
Bursaria spinosa is the only species in the genus Bursaria and is native to all parts of Australia except WA and the Northern Territory.
It is hardy and will grow in almost any situation except perhaps, water logged sites. Propagation is from seed or cuttings and it is readily available from nurseries which stock native plants.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR MAY 2010
Natives provide warm glow in colder months
With a bit of planning it is possible to have colour in your garden even in the coldest months of the year and native plants should be part of your planning. Flowers provide not just colour but food for those birds which over winter in the state. Many of our natives are also very good as cut flowers and in many species the foliage is attractive. Fruit, which develop from the flowers, can prolong the colour display and in fact if you visit the Tasmanian bush in the cooler months you will notice the profusion of beautiful fruit (brilliant white, pink, deep red and purple) on many of our native species. A big advantage of using natives is that in most cases the species are not invasive, despite the fruit being eaten by native fauna.
Cold-season flowers, in a wide range of colours, can be found on native species of various habits, from groundcovers to bushy shrubs.
A useful groundcover is the native violet, Viola hederacea, which occurs naturally in Tasmania. This species spreads quite rapidly (though not invasively) and flowers profusely all year.
Numerous other groundcover or low-growing species flower during the cold months, including species of Grevillea, Hakea and a prostrate form of Goodenia ovata (native to Tasmania) which produces golden flowers for much of the year.
The beautiful Correas, several of which are native to Tasmania, begin flowering in April with a range of colours available from white through red and pink to green. Many of their bell-shaped flowers are two-coloured and they are excellent bird attractors. Most species are very hardy, C.alba growing naturally on coastal sand dunes subject to salt spray.
Epacris species such as the local E. Impressa and the magnificent pink and white flowered E. longiflora are in bloom for much of the year.
Acacias are generally autumn and winter flowering and vary in habit from low-growing groundcovers, through medium-sized shrubs to tall trees with the familiar spikes or spherical heads of golden flowers.
Other beautiful and hardy winter-flowering plants include shrubs such as Eremophila “Winter Glow” (yellow flowers), Crowea exalata with its beautiful pink star-shaped flowers, various members of the genus Scaevola with their violet ‘five-fingered” flowers and Thryptomene saxicola (pink flowers). Several species or varieties of the genus Callistemon (bottle brushes) flower in autumn and winter.
Several native daisies produce impressive displays of colourful flowers over autumn and winter, including species of Brachyscome and Xerochrysum (the latter often being sold under its former name Bracteantha).
This is not an exhaustive list of winter-flowering natives; there are many others available at nurseries which stock native plants. As usual when buying plants, make sure they are propagated from stock of “proven performance” and that the species are not likely to be invasive, especially if you live near native bushland.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR JUNE 2010
Native Plants for an easy care Cottage Garden
Cottage gardens traditionally evoke images of massed informal plantings of exotic annuals and perennials. Using a random mix of annuals, bulbs, lilies, groundcovers, climbers and small shrubs, all planted closely together, highlights differences in colour, foliage and form. Beautiful cottage gardens can also be created using Australian native plants thus reducing water requirements and the need to re-plant each year with punnets of annuals. Now is a good time to plan your approach.
The height and vigour of your chosen plants will depend on the area developed. The larger the space, the taller the plants you can consider. Cottage gardens usually only contain plants less than 1 metre in height. When planting, remember to reduce the height of your plants from the rear towards the front. With a native cottage garden, you can use more small flowering shrubs than in exotic cottage gardens, probably because the choice of suitable specimens is endless. With the right choice you can ensure colour all year round.
Small flowering shrubs such as correas flower throughout winter and the drought resistant eremophilas, with their wide range of flower and foliage colours, are guaranteed to create a feeding frenzy with nectar loving birds. See if you can locate thomasias in your nursery. All are attractive but try T. petalocalyx or T. grandiflora, both superb. Their flowers are in the pink/purple/mauve range and are on display for many months of the year. Scaevolas are also small shrubs with long flowering periods. The blue and gold flowers on Scaevola nitida are bigger than the smaller groundcover varieties. Verticordias are well-worth consideration with V. plumosa displaying bright pink/mauve feathery flowers clustered along its stems, for about 6 weeks each year. Like many natives, it requires good drainage. Shrubs with compact growing habits are particularly suitable for cottage gardens. Pimeleas fill the bill here. P. ferruginea is a striking example. It has small, bright green glossy leaves and massed deep pink pin-cushion flowers. There are increasing numbers of dwarf cultivars of larger shrubs coming on to the market whose size makes them eminently suitable such as Banksia ericifolia “Little Eric” or Melaleuca linarifolia “Copper Tops”
Having planted an attractive and varied base of small flowering shrubs, the trick now is to provide accent and contrast by interspersing them with random plantings of strappy, slender-stemmed or tufted species. There are numerous plants in this category, many which grow in Tasmania. Bulbine lily (Bulbine bulbosa), a Tasmanian native, is one to consider. It has slender stems of yellow flowers. It grows profusely in rocky crevices in the Cataract Gorge in spring and summer, testament to its hardiness. It would provide a spectacular show mixed with native bluebells or campanulas such as Wahlenbergia stricta. For colour and reliability it is hard to go past kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos) especially the smaller hybrids which grow no taller than 40 –60 cm. Colours range from red, orange, yellow and green and they have lengthy flowering periods. Remember to protect from snails. Clustered plantings of the common narrow-leafed trigger plant (Stylidium graminifolium), with its deep pink flowers and tufted leaves, can also provide an attractive counter point for example, to the bright yellow flowers of the small native hibbertias such as H. serpyllifolia. The common flag iris (Diplarrena moraea) seen flowering in open bushland throughout Tasmania, is worth planting randomly throughout the garden, and in spring its long slender stems (60cm) supporting pretty white flowers would add a delicate look. Generous and random plantings throughout of the chocolate lily (Dichopogon strictum) would add wavy touches of blue and, in summer evenings, give off perfume redolent of chocolate. Small native grass varieties such as Poa mollis will also provide contrasting tufted textures.
Remaining gaps can now be in-filled with bright and colourful displays from plants such as native daisies. The commonly termed paper-daisies include species of xerochrysum, rhodanthe, helichrysum and chrysocephalum. With colours ranging from white, yellow, orange and red they are a highlight in any cottage garden. Xerochrysum bracteatum is a popular yellow one. Brachyscomes, sometimes known as the Swan River daisy, have dainty blue, pink or white flowers for most of the year and is an excellent plant in any domestic garden. If you can find room for lechenaultias, their dazzling display and low growing habit make them well worth planting. Its flowers come in a dazzling array of colours like L. formosa, or L. biloba which are red and blue respectively.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR JULY 2010
The genus Richea was named after Claude-Antoine-Gaspard Riche a naturalist on Bruni d'Entrecasteaux's 1791 expedition. A member of the Epacridacea family, Richea consists of 11 species all but two of which are endemic to Tasmania.
Richea pandanifolia (leaves similar to pandanus), commonly referred to as Pandani, is one of Tasmania’s most distinctive plants and has the honour of being the tallest heath plant in the world. Naturally occurring in sub-alpine and alpine regions Richea pandanifolia was described by Lord Talbot de Malahide as “one of those plants…which…transport one in imagination to the remote past”.
In the wild Pandani can be a small shrub or small tree often with a single, narrow trunk. Large tapering leaves with a wide sheathing base grow to 1.5m long. The dead leaves cloak the trunk for many years keeping it warm and protected from the extreme alpine temperatures. Clusters of pink flowers form among the upper crowded leaves during early summer. A very slow growing plant it can take 10-15 years to flower.
Richea dracophylla (with leaves like the genus Dracophyllum) naturally occurs in wetter parts of sub-alpine montane forests of the south-east. A woody, open branched shrub to 2m sometimes taller. Large tapering leaves, with red tips make this a striking foliage plant. Spikes of creamy/white flowers occur in large clusters towards the end of the branches in late spring / summer. Seedling plants may take 5-6 years to flower.
Richeas can be a challenge to grow in the garden but don’t despair, they are quite reliable in containers. For best results pot on in spring or early autumn using a good quality native potting mix and a larger container. You may want to sit a plastic pot inside a bigger ceramic pot. Make sure plants are kept moist and select a semi shaded site away from hot winds. For those up to the challenge - plants in the garden need acidic soils rich in organic matter with excellent drainage but which are also moisture-retentive. A semi-shaded location in the garden with morning sun is ideal. Make sure plants in the garden or in containers do not dry out especially over drier months. Now just sit back and wait for those truly spectacular flowers and in the meantime enjoy the unique foliage.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR AUGUST 2010
Wattle time is here again. Have you seen the golden flowers of the cootamundra and silver wattles along the highways and in local gardens over the last few weeks?
There are about twenty different species of wattle occurring in Tasmania, four of them are endemic (occur only in this State). Some are trees, like the famed timber tree blackwood and the common silver and black wattles. Others are large shrubs or small trees, some with ball flowers, others with rod flowers in varying shades of cream to bright yellow.
There are a number of prostrate, small or medium shrubs more suitable in size for growing in home gardens. Some of these begin flowering in February or March, others in springtime. These include:
Spreading wattle (A. genistifolia), ploughshare wattle (A. gunnii), redstem wattle (A. myrtifolia), dagger wattle (A. siculiformis), sweet wattle (A. suaveolens) and juniper wattle (A. ulicifolia).
There are prostrate forms occurring of spreading wattle, red stem wattle and sweet wattle, as well as shrubs to 2 m tall.
The illustrated re dstem wattle occurs commonly from coast to inland hills in Tasmania, as well as in all mainland States except Northern Territory. It is a shrub, prostrate to 2 m tall with acutely ribbed branchlets, green to yellow-green leathery ‘leaves’. It flowers are large loose cream to pale yellow balls that occur from July to October. Its buds are often reddish. Pods are woody, erect and twisted when dry.
Red stem wattle is useful for re-vegetation projects or as a garden specimen in well-drained soils; prostrate forms are ideal as ground covers on rockeries or banks. Grow from seeds soaked first in hot water before sowing and from cuttings. To maintain the prostrate habit take cuttings only from prostrate plants.
Wattles flower in springtime all over the continent. Australia’s floral emblem, the beautiful large golden flowered golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially proclaimed in1988 and four years later the 1st September was proclaimed as National Wattle Day and is celebrated on this day each year. At flowering time Golden wattle may be seen on the Domain in Hobart and around the bay at St. Helens.
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR SEPTEMBER 2010
Aussie Silver Gardens
Winter is the ideal time to reflect on the use of foliage to lighten sections of the garden. Using plants with grey or silver foliage is an ideal way to achieve this. Gardens with grey or silver foliage plants work very well in our climate. They retain their good looks in our winter and in the summer shimmer in bright sunlight. There are other qualities of grey plants of which we could take advantage. In particular they are excellent fire retarders and they act as light reflectors at night. Another important factor of most plants are their drought tolerance. Grey and silver colouration is generally the result of a layer of white hairs on the leaf surface which reduces water loss by reflecting the sun’s rays. They also hold the moisture close to the leaf surface and keep the tissues cool. In the native plant world we are spoilt for choice.
At ground level one of the best choices is Chrysocephalum apiculatum. This is a very adaptable plant with various forms available. Some make a good ground cover, others grow as low mounds. The bright yellow button like flower heads are excellent butterfly attractors. Another ground cover is Calocephalus lacteus. This one mats over the ground and has little creamy white flowers.
In the small shrubs there is Zieria littoralis. This only grows to one metre and has small pink flowers in the summer. Another small shrub is Leucophyta brownii. There many forms of this available, ranging from a dwarf form that goes only to 30 cm to a form that can grow to one metre by one metre. They resemble balls of crumpled silver wire and can make an interesting border. A larger shrub is Olearia lanuginosa. This can grow up one and half metres but can easily be trimmed.
Two lovely medium size Grevilleas with silver foliage are Grevillea endlicheriana and Grevillea arenaria. The former has extra long arching stems of white to pale pink spider like flowers most of the year. The latter can grow up to two-two and half metres with orange flowers. They make good bird attractors. Another excellent bird attractor is Hakea petiolaris. It has globular cream and pink flowers in the autumn and winter.
Good fire retarders are the salt bushes. Rhagodia spinscens grows to 50cm but can spread up to two metres. It can also be grown as a hedge. All it requires is a trim 3 or 4 trims a year. Atriplex nummularia can also be grown as a hedge or screen but that will reach a height of one and half metres.
Conostylis candicans is a tufting plant of 50 cm by 50cm It has yellow flowers on long stems that come just above the plant leaves. Another plant of the same size, Dianella amoena from the midlands of Tasmania, has lovely grey-blue strappy leaves with pale blue flowers on long stems. This gradually spreads by suckering.
One can add height to the garden with a Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus caesia “Silver Princess” is an excellent choice in a frost free area. The Tassie gums like Eucalyptus gunnii or risdonii are excellent in a colder area.
Above are just a few of the range available. A special area of your garden devoted to grey and silver colour would look stunning. As one can see there is a plant for almost every situation in the garden. A good nursery will be able to help you in extending your selection
NATIVE PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR OCTOBER 2010
ANOTHER USE FOR NATIVE PLANTS
When you think of native plants for the garden, you would normally
envisage them being planted in the ground.
However, another excellent use for our beautiful indigenous flora
is as pot plants. Probably four out of every five native species
can be used as handsome potted specimens! Groundcovers, shrubs,
tufty monocots and some trees can all be used to great effect on
your balcony or in your courtyard.
But there is yet another genre of potted plant for which many native
plants are eminently suited, and that is when they are styled following
the ancient art of bonsai!
Will Fletcher from Island Bonsai, near Hobart, recently spoke at
the Australian Plant Society meeting in Launceston. He pointed out
that many native species have small leaves and small flowers, which
are ideally suited to the representation of a diminutive tree in
The art of bonsai originated in China some 1800 years ago, then
developed for 800 years in Japan, from where it has now spread worldwide.
Most Australian devotees follow the traditional Japanese and Chinese
stylings, which can often be successfully transposed to Australian
native plants, although there is a growing trend towards representing
our native plants in local stylings that evoke the feeling of Australiana.
Some of the Australian plants that make excellent bonsai are Banksia,
Melaleuca (paperbark), Callistemon (bottlebrush), Leptospermum (teatree)
and Allocasuarina (sheoak). Many species from these genera develop
great character in the trunk, and at a relatively young age. (Often
in the first 10 years....see photo!)
Add to this list some of our iconic Tasmanian endemics such as the
graceful Huon Pine and our delightful, alpine Deciduous Beech, and
you soon realise that there is a wealth of variety with potential
The Banksia pictured, stands 60 cm high, and originates from a cutting
taken from a bush on the east coast. Banksia marginata occurs extensively
across Tasmania from the coast to the mountains and can vary widely
in its habit. Plants from coastal sites can grow as statuesque trees;
others in very exposed sites are almost prostrate as they brace
themselves against the gales. They can also vary markedly in their
leaf and flower size.
This particular form of Banksia marginata features small leaves
and small flowers, making it ideal for a bonsai. The pot is a high
quality, hand made pot from Pat Kennedy, a bonsai potter in NSW.
(Limited numbers of Pat Kennedy pots are available from bonsai nurseries
in Launceston and Hobart)
In earlier times in China and Japan, plants were dug from the wild
for use as bonsai, but this activity is strongly discouraged (and
is illegal in many areas) in Tasmania. Our beautiful, wild plants
are best admired in their natural settings, where they can be enjoyed
Luckily in Tasmania we are blessed with excellent native plant nurseries
on the outskirts of Launceston and Hobart, as well as in the north-west
and the east coast. A visit to any of these nurseries will always
reveal gems, suitable for both the bonsai beginner and the experienced
For those searching for additional help in learning about the rewarding
pastime of bonsai, the following clubs are very welcoming. The Launceston
Bonsai Workshop (ph 0417 58 1080) meets regularly at Riverside,
the Devonport Bonsai Society can be contacted on 6424 2128, and
the Bonsai society of Southern Tasmania (ph 6229 5741) meets monthly
Banksia Marginata as bonsai - 10
PLANT OF THE MONTH FOR NOVEMBER 2010
Australia’s Deciduous Trees – The White Cedar
When one thinks of Australian trees one mind goes to gum trees
or some form of evergreen tree, but there are some deciduous trees
in Australia. One of the prettiest and also one of the easiest to
grow is Melia azedarach var. australascia. The common name is White
The White Cedar is a small to medium tree that belongs to the mahogany
family, Meliaceae the same family as the Toona, the Australian Red
Cedar. The single-trunk tree is found naturally in Queensland, the
Kimberleys in Western Australia, Northern Territory and in New South
Wales as far south as Goulburn. In South Australia it is often used
as a street tree. It is a very adaptable tree that will grow in
a range of soils and is easy to grow in the Tamar Valley. It is
hardy to most frosts and withstands extended dry periods, although
supplementary watering and fertilisers will promote faster growth.
This species prefers open sun and grows into a spreading shady tree
that resembles an ash. In fact Melia is the Greek name for the ash
tree. The leaves are bipinnate with ovate leaflets to 7 cm. The
leaves turn a lovely golden colour before dropping in the late autumn.
The flowers which occur between late October and December are in
axillary panicles. They are pale mauve and white coloured with a
chocolate scent. In the autumn the flowers develop into fleshy yellow
orange fruits. The fruit are poisonous to humans and dogs but attract
birds especially parrots. Even the trunk of the tree is attractive
with its smooth grey bark that will become covered with patches
of lichen with age.
White Cedar can be propagated from the seed without any pre treatment,
the seed remaining viable for a number of years. It can also be
grown from cuttings of ripened wood.
The cape lilac caterpillars that are a problem eating the leaves
on the mainland are not a problem in Tasmania. In the warmer climates
it can seed down but that also does not occur here.
It makes a lovely feature tree in the garden, growing
here in the north of Tasmania six to eight metres in height with
the same spread. It is worthwhile looking out for a specimen in
a good nursery.