Pomaderris brunnea

Brown Pomaderris, Rufous Pomaderris

Family: Rhamnaceae

A shrub to about 3 m tall, spreading to 1-2 metres wide, with distinctively hairy stems.

It is endemic to NSW where it is rare and listed as threatened with extinction; found generally to the south-west of Sydney, around Tahmoor, Picton and Camden as well as Appin and to Lake Cordeaux. It is also found west of Lake Burragorang. There are records around the Cowan-Brooklyn area as well as a few scattered records through north-western Sydney all the way to Kandos-area. There is also one known location west of Barry near Nundle in Tuggolo State Forest as well as in Goonook nature Rserve north of Taree. It is found with high disjunction in East Gippsland in Victoria, growing near the Rodger River and Snowy River, making the distribution of this threatened species very interesting.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest, often on alluvial soils or clays along creeklines.

Pomaderris spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are up to 4 cm long by 1.5 cm wide, elliptic to oblanceolate, with toothed margins; upper surface dark green and glabrous; lower surface very white due to hairs; also with longer brown hairs. 

Pomaderris produce 5-merous bisexual flowers with 5 sepals, petals and stamens and 1 carpel; often with flower petals falling off early or not produced at all; with flowers first clustered in small cymes which are then grouped into terminal panicles or corymbs or heads/clusters.

In this species, small, yellowish flowers without petals and form dense clusters at the ends of the branches, to 50 mm long overall by about 30 mm wide; appearing in Spring.

The fruit of Pomaderris is a capsule. In this species, they are about 5 mm wide, with sepals persisting, producing seeds about 1 mm long.

In the garden

Not a lot, if anything, is known about the cultivation of this species. It is a listed threatened species and therefore cultivation is likely unknown or in low amounts. It may be more widely grown in the future. 

Species of this genus would add benefits to any garden such as attracting different insects with flowers. This species makes a nice-rounded shrub with attractive foliage. It is a very showy plant when large and in full flower. 

Pomaderris, generally, are nor widely cultivated although they have much to offer the native garden as most have attractive foliage and colourful flowers that would make it an asset in any garden. Availability is one problem due mainly to difficulties in propagation. However, some native nurseries frequently have them for sale. At this point in time, several gardeners on Gardening Australia have showcased species of this genus growing successfully and beautifully in their gardens.

In the garden they require moist, well drained soils in a sunny or lightly shaded position.

They should be grown more often. Shrubs in this genus make a great substitute for exotics such as *Cotoneaster, some *Prunus sp. and other similar exotics.


Propagation can be carried out from seed which germinates well following treatment with boiling water. Seed is shed from the plant when ripe and is difficult to collect.

Cuttings of hardened, current seasons growth can be successful but they are usually very slow to strike and the success rate is usually well below 100%

Other information

Pomaderris spp. readily regenerate after fire – through the seedbank. Large numbers of seedlings and saplings, of some species, can be seen in some forest and woodland areas after fire. 

Pomaderris is a genus of about 70 to 80 species, found in Australia and New Zealand only. Australia has about 65 native species with 61 species endemic; found in all states except Northern Territory. NSW currently has about 47 species – some of which are species complex. 

Pomaderris – from the Ancient Greek poma (πῶμα) meaning a “covering” or “lid” and derris (δέρρις) (pronounced therris) meaning “leather”, referring to membranous valves which sometimes cover the capsules.

brunnea from Latin brunneus meaning ‘deep brown’ – likely referring to the brown hairs on the stems and leaves. 

This species is listed as threatened with extinction at the State and Commonwealth level with the categories of endangered and vulnerable respectively. It is not listed as threatened in Victoria. 

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

NSW Scientific Committee (2014) – Final Determination for Pomaderris brunnea https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Animals-and-plants/Scientific-Committee/Determinations/2014/pomaderris-brunnea-nsw-scientific-committee-final-determination.pdf?la=en&hash=988D37C988742990B69A0B5A2AC32C67DFF4F245 

Plants of South eastern New South Wales – LUCID Identification Website / App –                      Pomaderris brunnea profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/pomaderris_brunnea.htm

By Jeff Howes and Dan Clarke