Philotheca myoporoides

Native Daphne or Long-leaf Wax Flower

Family: Rutaceae

A shrub to 2 metres tall with a 1 to 2-metre spread.

It is a widespread species, growing from possibly as far north as Townsville, but more commonly south from Maryborough in Queensland, down through the NSW coast and tablelands, extending to the western slopes and south-western plains (Dubbo and Griffith regions), and south into Victoria as well as Tasmania (few records for the latter).

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest as well as heath, usually on sandy to loam soils, often in sheltered moister areas.

The stems are blue-grey and hairless with warty-glands.

Philotheca spp. have simple and alternate leaves (a trait it shares with its relative, Citrus), often with conspicuous oil glands and odorous.
In this species, the leaves are variable, narrow-elliptic to oblong to broad-ovate, to about 10 cm long and 2 cm wide, with both sides having warty-glands.

Philotheca spp. produce flowers in leaf axils or at the terminals, often reduced to single flowers with leaves in-between or in cymose or racemose groups. Flowers have 5 sepals (rarely 4) and 5 petals (rarely 4).

In this species, flowers are arranged singly or in up to groups of 8, in leaf axils with petals white; about 15 mm across and can be produced profusely, in Autumn and Spring.

The fruit of Philotheca is a schizocarp-capsule – which splits into equal segments on maturity which each segment called a coccus (plural cocci). The capsule is approximately 7 mm long with a beak to 3 mm long.

In the garden

This species can be cultivated successfully. This particular species is one of the most reliable to grow of the genus.

This author planted a plant over 25 years ago in a residential garden, in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh and it is still growing and flowering well. More plants have been installed as they are hardy and reliable and will grow happily in dappled light. Once established, plants can withstand extended dry periods and are tolerant of at least moderate frosts. They are pruned after flowering. This species is usually pest free but can sometimes be affected by scale and sooty mould if grown in a very shady situation.

It is a very attractive species producing flowers en masse.

Philothecas can be challenging to grow but often with more success than the related Boronias. They are very attractive in flower and well worth the effort.

In a garden situation, they grow best in well-drained soils in full sun. They can succumb quickly to poor drainage. Place in a well-drained sandy soil, in semi-shade to full sun, preferably on a slope. Lightly prune after flowering to maintain compact shape. Flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Very useful in rockeries and sloping gardens.


In common with most members of the Rutaceae, propagation from seed is difficult. Cuttings usually strike readily from current season’s growth but some species can be slow to form roots. This species is propagated with good success from cuttings

Other information

Philotheca myoporoides has been renamed – it was originally Eriostemon myoporoides.

Five subspecies are currently recognised in by the Australian Plant Census, three of these occur in NSW:

  • subsp. myoporoides – has larger leaves and usually flower clusters in 3 to 8 on longer pedicels – widespread in NSW and Victoria.
  • subsp. brevipedunculata – smaller leaves and flowers on short pedicels, growing only from Sassafras to Moruya in NSW.
  • subsp. acuta similar to subsp. brevipedunculata but growing in western NSW on the plains, with slightly longer peduncles and pedicles.

There is a cultivar called “Profusion” with smaller leaves and profuse flowers.

Philotheca is a genus of about 50 species, all are endemic to Australia with species in every state except the Northern Territory. NSW currently has 20 species.

Most Philotheca plants would die in a fire and regenerate from the seedbank.

Philotheca was first described by Edward Rudge in 1812. As there are some reported variations on the meaning – the Latin of Rudge in his publication was transcribed for these profiles as follows:

all as in Eriostemone, but the habit is very different from that of the ericoid branches; The terminal flowers and the filaments below, enlarged into the naked box, whence the name.

It has been reported that Psilos (ψιλός) refers to “naked” or “bare” in Ancient Greek. Philos (φίλος) in Greek tends to mean “friend”. Philia (φιλία) in Ancient Greek means “highest form of love”

The suffix -theca refers to “box” or “case” in Ancient Greek. Hence, it is thought the name means “naked-box” or “loving-box” referring to the condition of the 10 (or 8) stamens that are fused at the base and forming a box-like structure. (Note: this is not the case in all species with some having free stamens).

myoporoides  – from Latin resembling the genus Myoporum – this may refer to the foliage as well as the flowers which are also 5-merous in Myoporum.

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

Australian National Herbarium – Philotheca myoporoides profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp1/philotheca-myoporoides.html

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

Wikipedia – Philotheca myoporoides profile page    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philotheca_myoporoides

Gardening with Angus – Philotheca myoporoides ‘Profusion’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/philotheca-myoporoides-profusion-wax-flower/

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.