Pomaderris elliptica

Family: Rhamnaceae

A shrub to 4 metres tall, spreading to several metres wide.

It occurs naturally in NSW, with a mainly coastal and tablelands distribution; south from around Taree and Rylestone, extending south along the coast, west to around Wadbilliga National Park, to Bega and then disjunctly around Eden and further inland. It extends into Victoria, generally from the eastern corner of the State to Melbourne-area and further south to the coast. It is common in the eastern half of Tasmania, extending into some western areas and the north-west coast. 

It grows in open forest and woodland, often on sandy to shale-sandstone soils. 

Pomaderris spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are to 12 cm long by 4.5 cm wide, ovate to elliptic, upper surface hairless and mid green; lower surface densely and minutely white with star-shaped (stellate) hairs; with margins entire to finely crenate.

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 are yellow, to about 2 mm across, produced in large panicles about 12 cm across; sepals of flowers not persisting into the fruiting stage.

The fruit of Pomaderris is a capsule. In this species, they are about 5 mm wide, stellate-hairy.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated and can be grown as a garden shrub. 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 is a good tall screen plant with flowers well displayed. Responds to hard pruning. It is a very showy plant when large and in full flower. 

Pomaderris spp., generally, have not being widely cultivated although they have much to offer the native or even exotic-based 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

Two varieties are currently recognised: 

  • P. elliptica var. diemenica – endemic to Tasmania. 
  • P. elliptica var. elliptica – all NSW and Victorian occurrences.

This species may be difficult to distinguish from Pomaderris intermedia and Pomaderris discolor.

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

Pomaderris is a genus of about 70 to 80 species of shrub to small trees, 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 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.

elliptica – Latin – elliptical – referring to the leaf shape (possibly not overly helpful when the leaves of many species of this genus are considered).

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

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

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – LUCID identification website / online app – Pomaderris elliptica profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/pomaderris_elliptica_var._elliptica.htm

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 Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.