Pomaderris phylicifolia

Narrow-leaf Pomaderris, Slender Pomaderris

Family: Rhamnaceae

A shrub to 2 metres tall, with an upright habit, spreading to about 1 metre wide. 

In NSW, it occurs mainly on the south and southern, as well as central, coast and tablelands divisions; as far south as the Victorian border and as far west as between Jindabyne and Khancoban, northwards along the coastal-tablelands hinterland and the ACT, as far north mostly as Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine. A disjunct occurrence has been found on the Northern Tablelands at Cathedral Rock National Park. In Victoria, is occurs generally in the central parts of the eastern half of the State, between Jamieson – Alpine National Park at the border – to around Bendoc and as far south as Mt Hendrick. 

It grows in Tasmania, mainly in the larger north-eastern part, from south of Devonport to east of Hobart and north to north-east of Branxholm. It is also native to New Zealand, mainly growing on the north island and some locations on the south island. 

It is a listed threatened species in both Tasmania and New Zealand. 

It is found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest, as well as shrubland, often on rocky substrates such as granite and sandstone and often near watercourses. 

Pomaderris spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are to 2 cm long by 0.3 cm wide, narrow-oblong to linear or oblanceolate, with recurved margins; upper surfaces with bristly hairs or glabrous, lower surface white to grey due to stellate hairs with longer simple 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 are pale yellow, produced in short axillary cymes which together form leafy panicles; each flower about 3 mm across, with petals absent; produced mainly in spring. 

The fruit of Pomaderris is a capsule. In this species, they are about 3 mm long, covered in hairs, producing seeds about 2 mm long.

In the garden

Not a lot of information is available regarding the cultivation of this species. It may be difficult to grow or has not been trialled sufficiently. Check with native nurseries for availability. It is an attractive plant with its comparatively small leaves and pale yellow flowers. It can likely be grown on a fast-draining soil in full sun. It is found on rocky habitats in the wild. Useful for stabilising soils along streams and gullies where they occur.

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 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.

In this species seed is mature early to late summer. Monitor closely as seeds shed 3-14 days after maturity.

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

NSW currently recognises two subspecies of this species:

  • subsp. phylicifolia – leaves greater than 1.5 mm wide, and flat with margins recurved; occurring over most of the range – less so on the southern tablelands
  • subsp. ericoides – leaves less than 1.5 mm wide; mostly terete with margin revolute; occurring over most of the range to Mount Irvine. 

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. 

phylicifoliaLatin – referring to the genus Phylica – another genus in the family Rhamnaceae – mostly found in South Africa. 

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in NSW and Victoria. It is listed as threatened with extinction in Tasmania where it is considered rare. In New Zealand, it is also classified as threatened, classified as Nationally Critical.

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

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales (LUCID Online Plant website/app) – Pomaderris phylicifolia profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/pomaderris_phylicifolia.htm

The Woolshed Thurgoona Landcare – Pomaderris phylicifolia factsheet https://wtlandcare.org/details/pomaderris-phylicifolia-subsp-phylicifolia/

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.