Notelaea longifolia

Large Mock-olive, Large-leaved Olive

Family: Oleaceae

A tree to potentially 9 metres tall, with a canopy to a few metres across.  It is often seen as a shrub, between 1 and 4 metres tall, in much of its habitat.

In NSW, it occurs along almost all of the coast (as far south as Eden) as well as most of the tablelands and into the east of the central and north-western slopes, as far west as Merriwa and Tamworth. There are records in Victoria but it would appear (from VicFlora Online) that these are all N. venosa. It extends through Queensland, along the coast and tablelands in a patchy distribution as far as Marlborough (north of Rockhampton).

It is typically and commonly found in dry sclerophyll forest and woodland as well as shrubland and into heathland, on a range of soils including sandstone, shale-based and enriched shale-soils. 

The bark is grey to greyish brown.

Notelaea spp. have simple and opposite leaves (a common feature of this family). In this species, leaves are variable in size and shape, to 16 cm long and to 6 cm wide; lanceolate to ovate / broad-ovate to elliptic; dark to mid or even light green; glabrous to sometimes velvet-textured; as well as a very leathery-texture in most cases (Note: this is a throw-back but they have a similar feel to the old “paper money” of Australia which was replaced in the 1980/1990s) – this is a good identification feature along with a group of up to 4 pointed axillary buds in the leaf axils.

Notelaea spp. produce small flowers in axillary racemes or short clusters; each flower is bisexual and 4-merous – with 4 sepals and petals with 2 stamens and 1 carpel; generally yellow-cream in colour cream. In this species, flowers are to 2.5 mm long, with petals joined in 2 pairs at the base; arranged in racemes, to about 5 cm long, of up to 15 flowers; cream-green; mainly produced from April to October. 

The fruit of Notelaea spp. is a drupe (just like in the related exotic Olive and Privet) In this species, the fruit is fleshy, bluish-black when ripe (pink-white when developing), to 16 mm long, containing a single ovate to pointed seed, to 12 mm long.

In the garden

This is a hardy species that is easily grown in most soils and situations preferable in full sun. It is likely not a very popular plant and is does have very small and inconspicuous flowers. The fruits are more conspicuous and it might be grown for this reason – especially to attract birds into the garden.

It is used in revegetation projects and bushland regeneration and grows very reliably on a range of soils; in full sun to part shade. 

It can be pruned into a nicely shaped plant and may serve as a screening plant or gap-filler. Very little maintenance required once established. Often sold in native nurseries. 

Fruit is eaten by the Brown Cuckoo Dove.


From cuttings as germination from fresh seed that the flesh is removed, is slow, taking up to a year.

Other information

This plant grows in fire-prone environments and is likely able to regenerate by seed. Reportedly, it also has a lignotuber which allows it to reshoot. 

Notelaea is a genus of plants in the olive family (hence its common name). There are about 14 species, all endemic to Australia, occurring in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. NSW currently has 9 species. 

There are 3 forms of Notelaea longifolia (an official but very low taxonomic rank):

  • forma glabra:  north from the Sydney area; leaves, stems, and the buds at the bases of the leaves hairless, rarely with hairs.
  • forma intermedia:  north from the Nowra district; leaves, stems, and the buds at the bases of the leaves sparsely to moderately hairy.
  • forma longifolia:  north from the Eden district; leaves (especially on lower surface), young stems, leaf stalks, the buds at the bases of the leaves, and the common stalks of the flower clusters densely hairy.

Notelaeafrom the Greek via Latin – Notos (Νότος) – meaning “south” and –elaia (ἐλαία) – “olives” – referring to this genus as “the southern-hemisphere olive”. 

longifolia From Latin – longus (long) and – folia (leaves) – referring to this species having comparatively longer leaves. 

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

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

Save Our Waterways Now – Notelaea longifolia profile page                      https://sown.com.au/notelaea-longifolia-oleaceae-native-olive/ 

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – (LUCID Online Plant Identification Website / App) – Notelaea longifolia profile page    https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/notelaea_longifolia.htm 

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 Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.