Ricinocarpos pinifolius

Wedding Bush

Family: Euphorbiaceae

A shrub to 3 metres tall by potentially 3 metres wide.

It has a chiefly coastal occurrence in NSW, growing along the entire coastal fringe, extending inland to the lower Blue Mountains and inland from Grafton. It extends into Queensland, as far north as Whitsunday Island. In Victoria, it extends along the eastern and southern coastline and inland to around Ballarat. It also grows in disjunct populations in the north and east coast of Tasmania.

It is primarily found on sandstone and sandy soils, in heathland, shrubland, dry sclerophyll woodland and forest. 

Ricinocarpos spp. have simple and usually alternate leaves with entire margins. In this species, they are 40 mm long and only 3 mm wide, typically dark green with revolute margins and a short petiole with a pointed tip; pine-like in this species.

Ricinocarpos spp. are monoecious – a condition where separate female and male flowers are produced on any individual plant. Flowers are produced in terminal to axillary racemes, or solitarily, and are white in colour, with 4 to 6 petals and sepals. In this species, male flowers are produced either as clusters of solitary; female flowers are produced solitarily and surrounded by male flowers; with flowers to about 30 mm across, with male flowers having a central spike of yellow anthers and female flowers a pale green carpel.

The fruit is a capsule, produced by the female flowers, to 12 mm across – pale green and spiky. The seeds have a small appendage attached.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

I planted this plant about 10 years ago in my garden, in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh and it is now approximately 2 metres high and produces flowers from September to well into December. It is growing in a slightly raised bed over a clay sub soil and receives little additional watering from me.

Flowers for long periods of the year. The plant produces more male flowers than female and this provides for a more interesting overall visual display.

Editor’s notes:

A plant that can be grown successfully and has been cultivated for several decades. Sandy soils with reliable drainage are likely the best situation in any garden in conjunction with full sun to part-shade. This plant is grown successfully by members of APS (Sutherland Group, Hills-Parramatta Group and others). It can be pruned lightly into a dense shrub with resulting masses of flowers. Very useful for attracting a wider range of insects to the garden. This can be a very beautiful plant to grow. 


This plant can be reliably sourced from native nurseries but propagation is difficult. Seed is very hard to germinate. Cuttings are more successful and some forms strike more quickly than others. 

Other information

This species was historically used in wedding ceremonies and bridal bouquets in Australia, hence the common name. 

There are 16 known species of Ricinocarpos – with 15 endemic to Australia and 1 in New Caledonia. NSW currently has 3 recognised species.

This species likely regenerates from the soil seedbank after fire.

Ricinocarpos – Latin – referring to the genus Ricinus (Castor Oil Plant – the poisonous seeds of which are the source of the deadly Ricin gas); and –carpos (Greek: karpos (καρπός)) meaning ‘fruit’ – capturing the resemblance of the fruit to that of Ricinus. (Note: Ricinocarpos is not known to have poisonous seeds).

pinifolius – Latin – Pinus – the pine genus, and –folium meaning leaves – capturing the pine-like foliage (needles) of the species. 

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

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

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Ricinocarpos pinifolius profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/ricinocarpos-pinifolius


By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke