Olearia tenuifolia

Shiny Daisy Bush

Family: Asteraceae

Olearia tenuifolia is a small shrub reaching a height of about 2 metres with a spread to about 1 metre.

It has somewhat of a sporadic spread in NSW, found from west of Gosford to Dubbo and Tullamore, with Dunedoo being the northern extent; then concentrated between Cowra and Grenfell. There are patchy records west of Wollongong and Nowra with a lot of records around Canberra. It extends in patchy occurrences down to around Bermagui. It also has a patchy distribution across Victoria, occuring across the state, to a line south of Mildura (NSW).

It grows in rocky dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests as well as mallee shrublands.

Olearia spp. have simple and either alternate or opposite leaves. In this species, they are alternate, to about 35 mm long by 3 mm wide, linear in shape and with margins entire or regularly toothed, and with glands on either surface, sticky and aromatic.

Olearia are in the daisy family (the world’s largest family of species) which means their flowers are arranged in a capitulum or ‘daisy head’. Daisies are somewhat unique in that they have evolved inflorescences that appear to look like one flower. The Sunflower (*Helianthus annuus) could be considered the most grandiose example. The capitulum consists of:

  • ‘ray florets’ which are the petal-like structures which radiate around the centre of the capitulum;  these are a modified flower consisting of an elongated perianth tube which hides sexual structures at the base;
  • and ‘disc florets’ – the very small modified flowers in the central disc which have a much reduced perianth and are somewhat tubular with sexual structures.

In some daisies, a range of variations are thrown up such as an absence of ray florets; purely male or female disc florets; and some discs having an involucre of bracts rather than ray florets. A sunflower would have hundreds of disc florets in the centre, surrounded by its larger petal-like yellow ray-florets.

In Olearia spp., the flowers are arranged in typical terminal capitula (or ‘heads’) with ray and disc florets. In this species, the heads are produced solitarily at the stem terminals or in small corymbs. Each head is about 3 cm across, with the ray florets blue to mauve and the disc florets yellow. The flowers are profuse, conspicuous and carried for most of the year.

The fruit of Olearia (and many daisies) is an achene – a small fruit with one seed surrounded by a very thin outer wall and with a ring (pappus) of bristles attached which aids wind dispersal.

In the garden

A species that is known to be cultivated and can be grown successfully. Not a lot of information is available online but seeds can be purchased.

Olearia tenuifolia is both drought and frost resistant.

Both foliage and flowers are attractive features. Plants will become a trifle unkempt if they are not lightly pruned occasionally. The best soil conditions are not known but ensure good drainage for best results. It grows naturally in rocky and sandy sites.

We acquired the original specimen from another native plant enthusiast and since then we have included progeny, from this original plant, in many garden beds.

Daisy Bush flowers can attract a wide range of insects and Olearia tenuifolia blooms follow this trend. The main image shows a Blue Flower Wasp paying a visit and there is a small beetle on one flower in the thumbnail.


All Olearias propagate readily from cuttings and the Shiny Daisy Bush is no exception. Seed can also be easily propagated.

Other information

Olearia is a diverse genus of about 180 species, found in Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea. Australia has about 130 species that are endemic. Many of them are easily cultivated. They are found in a range of habitats with a wide range of leaf appearances; yet the flowers are always similar. The genus includes some threatened species. NSW currently has about 56 species.

Most Olearia spp. would regenerate from seed after fire.

Olearia – named for Adam Olearius (1599-1671), a German geographer and traveller who published books on his travels to the Middle East and Russia for the purposes of trade. He was also a mathematician and craftsman and collected some botanical specimens whilst travelling.

tenuifolia – Latin – tenuis – meaning ‘thin’ or ‘slender’ and –folia meaning ‘leaves’ – capturing the thin leaves of this species.

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

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

VicFlora – Flora of Victoria Online – Olearia tenuifolia profile page https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/04611575-8a25-44d2-83dc-21cdf5b8ed3a

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.