Abrophyllum ornans

Native Hydrangea

Family: Rousseaceae

This is a small tree to 8 m tall; sometimes growing as a shrub. It has alternate leaves to 20 cm long and about 8 cm wide with irregularly toothed margins, each tooth bearing a small, blunt projection.

Flowers are small but produced in showy panicles at the terminals, greenish-yellow to white, and slightly fragrant, appearing from October to December.

Fruit is a purple/black berry about 5 mm in diameter which ripens in March to October.

The natural distribution is from the Illawarra of New South Wales to the McIlwraith Range in Queensland.

It grows in warm-temperate and subtropical rainforest along smaller watercourses.

It is a useful edge or pioneer species for rainforest restoration.

In the garden

It is grown as an ornamental, mainly for its large shiny leaves and showy fruit.

As a garden plant it requires a frost free shaded position and is hardy and fast growing if not allowed to dry out and given a cool position in a range of well-drained moist soils.

It also makes a good indoor plant.


Propagation is from fresh seed. Cuttings also strike with ease.

Other information

Some botanists also classify this plant in the family Escalloniaceae.

Abrophyllum is a genus of only 1 or 2 species – endemic to Australia (NSW and Qld).

It likely grows in habitats where fire is not an issue. It may not respond well after fire.

Abrophyllum – from Greek – meaning “delicate-leaf”

ornans – Latin for ornate; meaning “showily decorative” or “elaborate”.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Abrophyllum ornans profile page             http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Abrophyllum~ornans

Brisban Rainforest Action and Information Network (BRAIN) – Abrophyllum ornans profile page http://www.brisrain.org.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=10

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.