Notelaea venosa

Veined Mock-olive, Smooth Mock-olive, Large-leaved Mock-olive

Family: Oleaceae

A small tree potentially reaching 10 m or more, with a spread to several metres but often seen as a smaller shrub. 

It is common along the coast and coastal ranges of NSW, from the Victorian border, commonly along the south and central coast and then more patchy on the north coast but extending to the Queensland border; as far west as locations such as Jennings, Nundle, east of Kandos and west of Oberon and south-east of Nimmitabel. It extends in Victoria, occurring in the far eastern region – generally between Mallacoota and Bairnsdale and north to the Bonang-area. 

It generally occurs in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest as well as moist-dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, often on enriched sandy to volcanic-loam soils

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 4 cm wide; lanceolate to ovate to broad-elliptic, often with acuminate apices; dark to mid green (upper surface) and paler on lower surface; glabrous or sometimes pubescent when young; with 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 5 rounded to 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 3 mm long, with petals joined in 2 pairs at the base; arranged in racemes in leaf axils, to 5 cm long, of up to 9 flowers – yellow to green-white; mainly produced in spring to summer but also possible at other times of the year. 

The fruit of Notelaea spp. is a drupe (just like in the related exotic Olive and Privet) In this species, the fruit is fleshy, dark purple to black when ripe (pink-white when developing), to 20 mm long, containing a single pointed seed, to 12 mm long.

In the garden

Not a lot of information is available regarding the cultivation of this one but it can be cultivated successfully (see references below). 

It makes a nice small-rounded tree, potentially with an attractive branching pattern, and would be very useful in a garden to create form and structure as well as for small amounts of shade. Can be pruned to create dense foliage and may possibly serve as a site for nesting birds. 

Best planted in full sun to part shade on a well-drained soil, with some enrichment. Very hardy once established. Useful as a street tree. 



From cuttings as germination from fresh seed is reportedly slow.

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. 

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

venosafrom Latin venosus meaning “with many veins” – referring to the prominent and many veins in the leaves of this species.

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

Growing Illawarra Natives – Notelaea venosa profile page https://finder.growingillawarranatives.org/plants/plant/337 

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

Nature Mapr – Notelaea venosa page https://southcoast-nsw.naturemapr.org/species/9072 

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.