Billardiera scandens, the Common Apple Berry or Apple Dumpling, is a member of the Pittosporaceae family.
It is a slender climber or scrambling shrub with stems reaching 3 metres in length.
It has a large natural distribution, occurring along most of the NSW coastal areas, extending into the tablelands and western slopes. It extends up the coast into Queensland, mainly to the Maryborough area but with disjunct records north of Rockhampton and west of Gladstone. It grows through most of Victoria (except for the north-west). It also grows in the far south-east of South Australia and the north of Tasmania.
It is found in a range of habitats and soils types including dry and wet sclerophyll woodland and forests, heathland and shrublands, from sand to clay soils, as well as rocky areas.
Billardiera spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are linear-lanceolate, up to 3 cm long and about 1 cm wide, mid to dark-green, dull in texture, with wavy margins with an overall oblanceolate to lanceolate or long-elliptic shape. Juvenile shoots are very hairy.
Billardiera spp. produce decorative 5-petaled flowers, either solitarily or in cymes. In this species, flowers are solitary or in pairs, to two centimetres long, bell-shaped/tubular and greenish-yellow in colour, with a purplish tinge as the blooms age. Spring is the main flowering period with sporadic flowers at other times.
The flowers are followed by berries about 2 cm long which resemble a minature green kiwi-fruit; ripening to brown-purple and covered in fine hairs – giving a felt-texture.
A nice plant to grow. It is a slender climber which can be used on small fences or supports. Out in the open, without support, it will form a sub-shrub and can make a useful groundcover, potentially to 1 metre tall.
Plant on a well-drained soil for best results in full sun or part shade. Give some water in very dry times.
B. scandens would make an attractive specimen grown in a hanging basket. The fruit are edible, provided they are eaten at the correct ripening time.
Propagate from seed, which may take some time to germinate, and cuttings.
First Nations Peoples of Australia ate the ripe fruit and used dried berries for trading.
Billardiera is a small genus of about 10 species all endemic to Australia. NSW currently has 7 species.
This species will regenerate after fire from the seed bank and reshooting root-stocks.
Billardiera – named after Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière (1755 – 1834) – prominent French Botanist who came to Australia in 1792 and ended up publishing the first Flora of Australia.
scandens – Latin – meaning “climbing”.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Billardiera scandens profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Billardiera~scandens
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Australian National Herbarium – Billardiera scandens profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2002/billardiera-scandens.html