Wednesday, April 10, 2013

White Bollygum

Neolitsea dealbata
I took this photo last week in Goomburra National Park.

You can see that this tree has fruits in the bird-attracting colours of red and black. They are ripening progressively, which , besides making the tree highly attractive, will provide food for an extended period. White-headed pigeons were there in a crowd.
We can find the plant growing naturally along Great Dividing Range, mostly on the eastern side, but also in damper, more sheltered western sites within a few kilometres of the Range. It differs from its rainforest cousin Neolitsea australe in having larger leaves, smaller and more colourful fruits (about 1cm) and a bit of hairiness in the shoots, leaf-stems, and the veins on the backs of the leaves. Mature leaves have white backs, and are aromatic when crushed. Note the brown, hairy leaf-stem (petiole).

Extremely good value in a garden, it is a fast-growing small tree. It makes an excellent screen with foliage extending to the ground, or can be trimmed up to make a small shade tree. Drought hardier than other Neolitseas, it is a suitable candidate for waterwise gardens in Toowoomba and nearby red soil areas. Like all dry rainforest plants, however, it grows faster if watered and mulched in its first few years of life.
It would prefer a frost-free corner of the garden.
New flushes of leaves are very ornamental. A soft shade of pinkish brown, they hang limply all over the plant.

This young plant is growing in a local garden. Photographed last November, its new flush of leaves were just hardening off.

White bollygum is a member of the laurel family, whose members are all host plants for blue triangle butterflies.

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