Ceratopetalum ‘Johanna's Christmas’


Family: Cunoniaceae

This cultivar is a dwarf form of Ceratopetalum gummiferum.

It is a dense shrub to 1.5 metres tall x 1.5 metres wide.

It was registered with ACRA by Brian and Carol Roach of Westleigh, Sydney on 14 Jan 2004.

The leaves of this species are compound with 3 leaflets (trifoliolate) and arranged in opposite pairs, light to mid-green in colour. New growth may be bronze-red. Each leaflet is to 4 cm long by about 1 cm wide and narrowly-lanceolate to ovate, with regular shallow teeth.

Ceratopetalum spp. have flowers arranged in terminal cyme-like clusters. The 4 to 5 sepals are the main part of the flower with the 4 to 5 petals very small or absent. In this species, inflorescences are to 10 cm long by up to 10 cm wide with flowers with 5 conspicuous sepals arranged in a star-shape; sepals are initially about 3 mm long; white-cream in colour, and enlarging and changing to red, to 12 mm long as the fruit develops in the centre of the flower. Petals stay at 3 mm long and are very thin; flowers typically produced in November-December and turn red and are shed in February. The 5 sepals (calyx) play the role of the petals.

The fruit is a nut, 1-seeded and not overly large.

In the garden

This is a popular cultivar of this species. In a garden situation, it is at its best in full sun growing in a moderately moist soil.

Providing regular watering will give a good, and long flowering season. Can be used as a feature shrub in a sunny well drained position in the garden or as a pot plant for courtyards.

After flowering, it needs a light trim back behind the spent flowers. Feed with a good native fertiliser in spring.

Can be occasionally troubled by a mite which deforms new growth. They do make an ideal pot plants in a large-tall pot.

It is advised to only grow it if you can water it well.


From cuttings which can be difficult. Cultivars must be propagated by cuttings to retain the ‘true-to-type’ form.

Other information

There are other plants known in some Australian states as Christmas Bush which are entirely different and have no connection with the genus Ceratopetalum (usually called NSW Xmas Bush). For instance, Prostanthera lasianthos is the Victorian Xmas Bush, so check names carefully.

Readily available commercially. Can be purchased from Brian Roach at Westleigh Native Plants https://www.johannaschristmas.com.au/post/westleigh-native-plants

Ceratopetalum is a genus of 6 species, occurring in Australia and New Guinea. Five species are endemic to Australia. NSW currently recognises 2 species.

Ceratopetalum – from two Greek words kerato (κέρατo) meaning “horned” and petalo (πέταλο) meaning “petals” – referring to some species having petals resembling stag’s horns. (Aligns with names such as “Triceratops”).

‘Johanna’s Christmas’ – The Roaches named this cultivar after their daughter, Johanna.

Australian National Herbarium – Australian Cultivar Resgistration Authority Descriptions – Johanna’s Christmas                                                        https://www.anbg.gov.au/acra/descriptions/acc932.html

Gardening with Angus – Johanna’s Christmas profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/ceratopetalum-gummiferum-johannas-christmas-nsw-christmas-bush/

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke