Wednesday, August 6, 2008


 Myrsine variabilis (Rapanea variabilis)

Our local mutton-woods are coming into flower again, so be on the lookout for these shiny leaves and the brown buds clustered along old wood of the stems. They will open up to become cream flowers, then ripen into bird-attracting purple-blue fruits in summer. Muttonwood can grow as a small tree with a narrow, erect outline. If grown in the open it develops a dense canopy, and is unlikely to get any higher than 6m.
If pruned it forms a multi-stemmed screening shrub, showing its new bronze leaves to advantage.
In nature, this fast-growing plant also often grows in the understorey of dry rainforest, apparently happy to share root-space with larger trees overhead. It likes hillside sites, and grows better if given a good ground-cover of leafy mulch.
It’s hardy to both frost and drought.

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