Pomaderris discolor

Family: Rhamnaceae

A shrub to potentially 5 metres, spreading to several metres wide with stems possessing dense white stellate hairs.

It has a mostly coastal distribution in NSW, extending scarcely into the tablelands, from as far south as the Victorian border near the coast; in disjunct patches (Bermagui to Batemans Bay and commonly around Sydney) with scattered records north of Gloucester and Chandler River Gorge, south east of Armidale. The most western records are Lake Burragorang and Canyonleigh as well as Wollemi National Park. It is commonly found in the east of Victoria from Mallacoota west to Monkey Creek. It is listed as threatened with extinction in Victoria. There are a few records in Queensland, west of Bundaberg but these may be erroneous. 

It grows in open dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests often on sandy soils or rocky soils to enriched loams on rainforest edges.

Pomaderris spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are to 10 cm long by 4 cm wide, elliptic with upper surface glabrous and lower surface white due to dense 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, flowers pale yellowish to cream, about 3 mm across, with petals falling early or absent, in many-flowered branched clusters are to 60 mm long by about 50 mm wide; mainly in spring.

The fruit of Pomaderris is a capsule. In this species, the capsule is stellate-hairy, to about 5 mm long, releasing seeds about 1 mm long.

In the garden

Not a lot of information is available regarding the cultivation of this species. However, it can likely be grown successfully just like several others. Check with native nurseries for availability. Species of this genus would add benefits to any garden such as attracting different insects with flowers. This species makes a nice rounded tall shrub with generous foliage. It may make a good tall screen plant with flowers well displayed. It is a very showy plant in the wild when large and in full flower. 

Pomaderris spp., generally, have not being 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 can suffer from wet feet and general dieback.

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

This species may be difficult to distinguish from Pomaderris elliptica var. elliptica.

Pomaderris spp. readily regenerate after fire – through the seedbank. Large numbers of seedlings and saplings 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. 

discolor – Latin meaning of two quite different colours. The exact meaning is unclear as this species was described very early in 1804 as Ceanothus discolor. It may relate to the strong colour difference in the upper and lower sides of leaves. 

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild in NSW. It is listed as threatened with extinction in Victoria with the category of endangered. 

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

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

VICFlora – Flora of Victoria Online – Pomaderris discolor profile page https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/9f21447c-6561-47f7-8d03-2d0371061433 

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.