Pittosporum multiflorum

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

Family: Pittosporaceae

A stiff, wiry, often dense shrub, up to 3 metres high by 1.5 metres wide, with thorny branches.

It has a mainly coastal distribution in NSW, extending west to the border with the tablelands regions, growing north of Bega, extending mainly along the coast, into Queensland to around the Sunshine Coast.

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.

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

Pittosporum spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, 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, dark green and somewhat glossy.

Pittosporum spp. have 5-petaled flowers, often arranged in a variety of structures; either racemes, panicles or clusters, either terminal of axillary. In this species, flowers are solitary, white in colour, to about 1 cm across, occurring in spring or summer, typically in small numbers.

Pittosporum spp. have capsules although they can be fleshy and appear more like berries. In this species, is is conspicuously orange in colour, globose, to 10 mm in diameter, containing numerous seeds.

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. Ii is thorny, so consider placement carefully.

The dense foliage provides a habitat for small birds and animals. Great plant for foliage and overall plant contrast. Generally hardy and frost tolerant.


From fresh seed, although germination time is slow, anywhere from 50 to 200 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 seeds were eaten by First Nations Peoples of Australia.

Pittosporum is a large genus of about 150 species, extending to Africa, southern Asia, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. There are about 14 Australian species, occurring in all states. NSW currently has 14 species.

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.

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

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

Growing Illawarra Natives – Pittosporum multiflorum profile page https://finder.growingillawarranatives.org/plants/plant/379

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 Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke