Hymenosporum flavum

Native Frangipani

Family: Pittosporaceae

Hymenosporum flavum is a large tree, reaching a height of 25 metres with a wide canopy spread to 10 metres or more. It can be partly deciduous.

It grows in NSW, northwards from the Blue Mountains, extending northwards mostly through the coast and tablelands but also found on the western slopes in small occurrences; extending into Queensland in disjunct patches through the coast and tablelands, extending to south of Cooktown. It also occurs in New Guinea. 

It is typically found in wet sclerophyll forest and rainforest, usually on enriched soils. 

Hymenosporum has simple and alternate to clustered and whorled-leaves, to 15 centimetres long and about 5 cm wide, dark green and glossy above, pale green beneath with prominent venation.

Flowers are held in terminal clusters with each flower 5-merous and with 1 carpel; 3 cm across, tubular with five petal-lobes; initially, blooms are pale cream, ageing to orange-yellow, sometimes with reddish tones; highly perfumed (mostly at night) and are carried, in large numbers, in the warmer months. 

The fruit is a capsule to 35 mm long, bearing winged seeds about 8 mm wide. 

In the garden

Author’s notes:

A lovely fragrant tree for many gardens. The perfume, from the blooms, permeates the garden. The blooms appear to have a long vase life as cut flowers. They are used in public landscapes and as street trees in some areas. 

The Native Frangipani struggles in our cold climate garden (near Armidale) but we are having success incorporating it in our dense shrubberies where shelter is provided.

There is a dwarf form known as “Gold Nugget” that grows to roughly 1 x 1 metre. This may be preferable to many gardeners as the natural form can grow into a large tree quite quickly.

Editor’s notes:

They tolerate a wide range of soils – although enriched and well-drained is best. Should be pruned after every flowering to create a much denser foliage. Note: they can grow fast – reaching 5 – 10 metres in a few years and can grow very large. Pruning can help keep plants in check and they can be cut back hard. Prune early and often to create a denser smaller plant. Very hardy generally. 

A highly desired plant due to the scent of the flowers – which smell most strongly at night. 


Propagate from seed or cuttings.

Other information

This species is not highly prone to fires but can likely regenerate from suckering and from the seed bank. 

Hymenosporum is a mono-specific genus (i.e., containing one species – this one). It occurs in New Guinea and Australia (NSW and Qld). 

Hymenosporum – named after the Ancient Greek god Hymen – The God of Marriage and who possesed wings and –sporum from the Greek sporos (σπόρος) meaning “seeds” – capturing the winged seeds of the genus. 

flavum – Latin meaning “yellow” referring to the flowers.

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

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

Gardening with Angus – Hymenosporum flavum profile page: https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/hymenosporum-flavum-native-frangipani/

Plantmark Wholsale Nurseries – Hymenosporum flavum ‘Gold Nugget’ sales page https://www.plantmark.com.au/hymenosporum-flavum-gold-nugget

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.