Pomaderris prunifolia

Plum-leaf Pomaderris

Family: Rhamnaceae

A shrub to 3 metres high, spreading to about 2 metres wide. The stems have rusty stellate hairs. 

It has a wide natural geographic range in NSW, scattered through the tablelands and coastal subdivisions but also into the central and north-western slopes. It grows as far south as the Victorian border, south of Bombala in Nungatta National Park, extending northwards, as far west as around Tumut, Orange and Mount Kaputar National Park, up to the Queensland border near Tenterfield and Wallangarra. In Queensland, it only just occurs north of Wallangarra to Stanthorpe and slightly north of. In Victoria, it is common through the eastern half of the State, extending west to near Castlemaine and south of Ballan. It was previously recognised as occurring in the north of New Zealand but this is now recognised as a different species (P. edgerleyii).

It is found on rocky slopes and creeks, in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest, often on heavier (clay-based) or alluvial soils. 

Pomaderris spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are to 40 mm long and to 15 mm wide, oblong to elliptic with margins toothed; the upper surfaces are scabrous with hairs and the lower surfaces rusty-coloured with stellate 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 yellow in short panicles at branch terminals, about 5 cm long by 2 cm wide; each flower very small – about 3 mm across with petals absent. 

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

In the garden

Not a great deal of information is currently available regarding this species in cultivation. It is known to be cultivated and is reported to be fast growing and frost tolerant. Best planted on a well-draining soil with some clay, in a sunny to semi-shaded position.  

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.

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

One variety is currently recognised in NSW – var. prunifolia.

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. 

prunifoliaLatin referring to the genus Prunus and –folia meaning “leaves” – resembling leaves of Prunus trees (plums, apricots, peaches and cherries amongst others). 

It is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. However, endangered populations are listed in several Sydney local government areas (Parramatta, Auburn, Strathfield and Bankstown (now Cumberland, Strathfield and Canterbury-Bankstown respectively).

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

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles Pomaderris prunifolia: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/savingourspeciesapp/project.aspx?ProfileID=10655 

Yarra Ranges Council – Local Plant Directory – Pomaderris prunifolia var. prunifolia https://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/PlantDirectory/Shrubs/Shurbs-1.5-10-metres/Pomaderris-prunifolia-var.-prunifolia 

By Dan Clarke and Jeff Howes.