Leionema ‘Green Screen’


Family: Rutaceae

A shrub to 2 metres high by 2 metres wide.

It is a hybrid of Leionema elatius and L. lamprophyllum (likely deliberately manipulated) – two species which occur in NSW, which have disjunct geographic distributions.

Leionema spp. have characteristics matching those of other similar Rutaceae genera, (e.g. Philotheca, Phebalium, Crowea); i.e. simple, alternate leaves, usually with oil glands.

In this species, leaves are dark green, glossy, elliptic to shortly lanceolate, to about 3 cm long by 1 cm wide, aromatic when crushed and is produced densely.

Leionema spp. have 5-merous flowers; i.e. 5 sepals, 5 petals and usually 10 stamens surrounding 5 carpels, with an overall attractive star-shaped appearance. Flowers can be produced in leaf axils or branch terminals, in cymose clusters or solitary.

In this cultivar, flowers are produced in terminal clusters of cymes, appearing from winter to summer, with flowers about 10 mm across, white in colour,

The fruit of Leionema is a schizocarp-capsule – which splits into equal segments on maturity which each segment called a coccus (plural cocci).

It is not known if the fruit of this cultivar is produced.

In the garden

This cultivar does well in cultivation and is reputed to be hardy. It does well in shade or dappled sun; provide some sunlight for best results. The foliage can spread to ground level and applied pruning will create a dense shrub. Reported to attract butterflies and can flower profusely. Can tolerate dry periods once established but will benefit from supplementary water in dry times. A very attractive shrub. It can fill in a large area.

In cultivation, Leionema spp. prefer well drained (sandy to sandy loams), acidic soils in dappled shade or morning-light positions. They are highly-drought tolerant once established but benefit from some supplementary watering. It is advised to add some slow-release fertiliser when first planted and they will benefit from periodic organic fertilising (eg: blood and bone or seaweed solution).

It has been reported that species in this genus should be cultivated more widely and simply need more attention and effort (see Australian Native Plants Society Australia weblink in the references).  


In common with most members of the Rutaceae, propagation from seed is difficult but cuttings usually strike readily. To maintain cultivar characteristics – only cuttings can be used.

Other information

Leionema are a genus of 28 known species, 27 of which are endemic to Australia, with 1 species endemic to New Zealand. NSW currently has 15 species. These species have been previously classified in the genus Eriostemon and Phebalium. Leionema differs by not having anthers with an apical point or gland, as well as free sepals on the flowers and small bracteoles on the middle to upper part of flower stalks (pedicels).

Most Leionema spp. would likely die in a fire and regenerate from seed. Some basal regrowth or stem-reshooting may be possible.

Leionema – from Greek leios (λείος), meaning smooth”, and nema (nήμα), a thread, referring to a ‘hilar strand’; a small piece of tissue joining the hilum (a scar on the side of the seed) to the ovule.

‘Green Screen’simple named for the large dense habit of which this cultivar is capable.

Gardening with Angus – Leionema ‘Green Screen’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/leionema-green-screen-phebalium/

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Poor Relations – Phebalium / Leionema / Nematolepis http://anpsa.org.au/APOL20/dec00-4.html

Mallee Design – Leionema ‘Green Screen’ profile page                      https://malleedesign.com.au/shade-loving-leionema-green-screen/

By Dan Clarke