Ceratopetalum ‘Johanna's Christmas’


Family: Cunoniaceae

This cultivar is a dwarf form of Ceratopetalum gummiferum.

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

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 with regular shallow teeth.

The white flowers appear between October and January. Flowers of this genus have very minute petals or petals may be absent. In this species, the 5 petals are very short (less than 5 mm), with divided tips.

The 5 sepals (calyx) play the role of the petals. They start off white in about October, and then enlarge, up to 2 cm long and turn bright red, surrounding the developing nut (fruit) around Xmas time. The flowers are arranged in terminal cyme-like groups.

In the garden

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.

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.

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.


By Jeff Howes