Darwinia citriodora

Lemon-scented Myrtle

Family: Myrtaceae

Darwinia citriodora, the Lemon-scented Myrtle, is a native of Western Australia and grows to about 1.5 metres tall with a similar spread, forming a compact, rounded shrub.

Darwinia citriodora occurs naturally in the south-west of WA, from north-east of Albany, along the near-coast, to just north of Bindoon.

It is found naturally opn grniate or lateritic outcrops or skeletal soils in heathland and shrublands.

Darwinia spp. have simple and opposite leaves. In this species, the attractive leaves are rich green, 6 mm to 12 mm long, with colouring during winter of purple-red. The underside of the leaves have numerous oil glands and when crushed between the fingers, a pleasant lemon scent is given off.

Darwinia spp. have 5-merous flowers, usually clustered in umbel-like heads at the shoot terminals, subtended or surrounded by bracts. In this species, the flowers are usually carried in slightly pendulous clusters of four or sometimes five to six. Flowers are tubular and initially white then age to red.

Darwinia citriodora flowers for a long time commencing in June/July and lasts, most years, into October.  Spring and summer are the flowering periods.

The fruit is an indehiscent nut, in this species a few millimetres long.

In the garden

From Warren Sheather: Darwinia citriodora has survived and thrived, in our cold climate garden, for many years. In that time, the species has coped with many frosts and recurring droughts. Unfortunately, the many Western Australian Darwinias which have beautiful flowers, are not happy in our cold climate garden. Some species have been grafted onto durable root stock but they are rather expensive and they still may not succeed in our garden.

From Jeff Howes: Darwinia citriodora has long been available in plant nurseries and I first planted a few of these plants many years ago in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh. They have all grown to about 1.2 metres high by the same width and flowered well. They are hardy plants and I have found that they grow and flower better in Sydney’s wetter years than in drier years. This is to be expected, as they originate from the wetter SW corner of Western Australia. They are plants that prefer some shade or dappled light to do their best; however, they will tolerate full sun.

They attract honeyeaters.

There is a ground covering form of the Lemon-scented Myrtle that is available from nurseries.


Cuttings produce roots rapidly.

Other information

There is at least one cultivar availble called ‘Seaspray’.

Darwinia spp. mostly regenerate from seed after fire. Suckering/coppicing from basal zones may be possible.

Darwinia is a genus with over 70 species and occurs in south-eastern and south-western Australia. The lion’s share of species is native to south-western Western Australia with some species found in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. New South Wales currently has 11 species.

Darwinia – named after Dr Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), the grandfather of the famous evolutionist, Charles Darwin;

citriodora – Latin – citri – referring to Citrus (in this case – Lemon) and –odora meaning “odour” or “fragrance” – for the pleasant lemon-smelling leaves of this species.

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

Western Australian Herbarium: Florabase – the Western Australian Flora – Darwinia citriodora profile page https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5508

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

Gardening with Angus – Darwinia citriodora ‘Seaspray’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/darwinia-citriodora-seaspray-darwinia/


By Jeff Howes, Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke