Callitris endlicheri

Black Cypress Pine

Family: Cupressaceae

Callitris endlicheri reaches a maximum height of about 15 metres with usually a narrow-domed canopy (fastigiate) to 3 metres wide at the base. The branches are erect sometimes spreading; the bark is tough and deeply furrowed. 

It has a large inland natural occurrence in NSW, occuring throughout the tablelands and western slopes, as well as some coastal areas, and the east of the western plains. It occurs sporadically through Victoria, along the same longituditinal areas, west to Castlemaine and Wedderburn. It extends north through Queensland, again thorugh the tablelands and western areas, to mainly Rockhampton-area, but also in disjunct patches up to Townsville-area.

It grows mainly as part of dry sclerophyll woodlands and shrublands (where it can dominate the upper or lower canopy), often growing with iron-bark and red-gum, often on rocky ridges, and poorer soils. 

Callitris is a genus of pines. Hence they do not bear flowers but rather cones (conifers); part of the group of plants called ‘gymnosperms’ (naked-seed).

Callitris spp. have mature scale leaves (sometiomes referred to as awl-shaped or awls in pines); produced in whorls of 3. The tip are often triangular and the mid-section keeled or raised. The base of leaves are usually overlapped by the tips of the next whorl of leaves below. Juvenile leaves are more needle-like and arranged in whorls of 4. In this species, leaves are to 4 mm long and green to dark green; keeled and pointed at the tips. Leaves link together to produce broom-like foliage. Juvenile leaves are to 5 mm long and more needle-like. 

Callitris spp. produce seed-bearing cones – the female part; and the male cones (or strobili) which produce the pollen. In this species, the male cones are produced at the terminals of the foliage (in large numbers), each about 5 mm long and only 2 mm wide, brown in colour, releasing dust-like pollen (At the right time, and on a windy day, trees can be observed releasing large amounts of ‘dust’). Females cones are very distinctive in this genus, consisting of a whorl of 6 to 8 woody valves which open in a circle, producing a star-like cluster. Female cones receive wind-blown pollen to produce seeds. In this species, woody cones are produced solitarily in the foliage, on short peduncles, but often clustered on larger branches, woody and to 20 mm wide, with 6 valves or scales, persisting for a number of years. 

Seeds are released with a wing attached, sticky / resinous, brown and about 5 mm long.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

In our region, the Northern Tablelands of NSW, C. endlicheri is found both east and west of Armidale. At Dangar’s Falls, east of Armidale, this species clothes the cliffs around the falls. To the west there is a large population on a hill just outside our boundary. Since sheep were removed from Yallaroo a number of seedlings have appeared just inside our boundary. On another property, north of Yallaroo, we found a large dead specimen. Possibly, in days gone by, C. endlicheri had a wider distribution. Sheep and rabbits probably demolished seedlings.

We have several large specimens planted near our gate many years ago. There is now a proliferation of seedlings mostly downhill from the parents. They are welcome additions to our environment.

Black Cypress Pines could be planted instead of the ubiquitous exotic conifers. The native species have more tolerance to extended dry periods. Alternate plantings, incorporating Callitris glaucophylla (see profile), would create an interesting and drought tolerant hedge.

Best grown in full sun, on a soil with reliable drainage. 


Propagate from seed.

Other information

This species likely regenerates mostly from seed after fire.

Callitris is a genus of about 19 species occurring in Australia and New Caledonia. Australia has about 17 species, occurring in all states. New South Wales currently has 11 species. 

Callitris – From the Ancient Greek – Callos (κάλλος) – meaning “beautiful” (which is changed to κάλλη to describe a noun) and –tris – Greek for “3” (τρία) – referring to the attractive manner in which the small leaves are arranged in whorls of 3. 

endlicheri – named in Honour of Stephan Endlicher (1804-1849) – an Austrian Botanist and Director of the Botanic Gardens of Vienna. Endlicher formally published many Australian plants collected by others. 

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

NSW Flora Online – Callitris endlicheri profile page                                https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Callitris~endlicheri

The Gymnosperm Database – Callitris endlicheri profile page https://www.conifers.org/cu/Callitris_endlicheri.php 

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 Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.