Pittosporum multiflorum

Wallaby Apple, Orange Thorn, Large Fruited Orange Thorn, Apple Wallaby, Thorn Bush

Family: Pittosporaceae

A stiff, wiry shrub up to 3 m high, with thorny branches.  It is found in or near rainforest or wet sclerophyll forest, typically on enriched soils (shale and volcanic loams).Can also thrive in cleared rainforest areas. It grows north of Bega in NSW, extending mainly along the coast, into Queensland to around the Sunshine Coast.

The branches are numerous and brittle, with spines which arise from the leaf axils and along other branch parts.

Leaves are ovate to circular, flat, to 12 mm long and to 8 mm wide, toothed towards the tip and glossy both above and below, crowded along the stems.

Solitary white flowers occurs in spring or summer, typically in small numbers, about 8 mm across, with 5 petals.

Fruit is a capsule, orange in colour, globose, to 10 mm in diameter containing numerous seeds. The fruit is typically conspicuous

In the garden

Is known to be cultivated (see references) and can be shaped into a nice dense shrub. It needs to be grown in mostly shade, on an enriched well-draining soil for best results. It can be used as a screening plant and a topiary. It could be used to create multiple rounded shrubs along a walkway or in a formal bed. Do not prune overly heavily, tip pruning is recommended.

One potential problem is numerous suckers if it thrives. These can be dug out if they become a problem.

Reported to be an excellent indoor plant. Is thorny, so consider placement carefully.

The dense foliage provides a habitat for small birds and animals.

Propagation

From fresh seed, although germination time is slow around 55 to 193 days.

Other information

It was first described in 1832 as Citriobatus multiflorus by Allan Cunningham and was transferred to the genus, Pittosporum, by Lindy Cayzer, Michael Crisp and Ian Telford in 2000.

The large seeds were eaten by Indigenous Australians.

Pittosporum – from Ancient Greek – although not overly clear, there is information that the words pitta (πίττα) and pissa (πίσσα) were used to refer to “pitch” (tar / bitumen), and -sporum (sporos, σπόρος) means “seed”, referring to the sticky resinous nature of the seeds. The words pitta and pissa may also be connected to “pizza” and “pita”, early words used to refer to unleavened bread.

multiflorum – from Latin multus = “many” and florus = flower, referring to many flowers; a rather obscure name as this species does not flower heavily and flowers are produced solitarily.

https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Pittosporum~multiflorum
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pittosporum_multiflorum
https://finder.growingillawarranatives.org/plants/plant/379

By Jeff Howes