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Hymenosporum flavum

Native Frangipani

Family: Pittosporaceae

Hymenosporum flavum is a member of the Pittosporaceae family and is the only member of the genus. The common name is Native Frangipani and refers to the sweetly scented flowers reminiscent of the exotic frangipani. This is the only characteristic that they have in common.

Hymenosporum flavum, in the wild, will reach a height of 25 metres whilst in cultivation the maximum height is usually ten metres or so.

Leaves are up to 15 centimetres long, dark green and glossy above, pale green beneath with prominent venation.

Flowers are held in terminal clusters, three centimetres across, tubular with five lobes. Initially blooms are pale cream, ageing to orange-yellow sometimes with reddish tones. They are highly perfumed and are carried, in large numbers, in the warmer months. 

Hymenosporum flavum has a wide distribution extending from north-eastern Queensland to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney as well as New Guinea. The Native Frangipani inhabits rainforests and temperate forests.

In the garden

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. Flowers are followed by capsules that hold a number of winged seeds. They are used in public landscapes and as street trees in some areas. 

The Native Frangipani struggles in our cold climate garden 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.

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. As stated above, they can grow fast – reaching 5 – 10 metres in a few years. Very hardy generally. 

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

Propagation

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 – 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