Sannantha crassa (syn. Baeckea virgata, syn. Babingtonia crassa)

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub reaching a height of 2.5 metres with a spread of 1 to 2 metres.

It occurs solely in NSW, on the north coast and northern tablelands subdivisions, from as far south as the Cessnock-area, north to Armidale and east of here. 

It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and shrubland, often on rocky sites on steep slopes.  

The branches are pendulous.

Sannantha spp. have simple and opposite leaves. In this species, they are aromatic, lanceolate to elliptic, to 13 mm long and 4 mm wide, mid-green in colour with prominent oil glands.

Sannantha spp. have flowers in axillary clusters (cymes) where individual stems produce 3 flowers or umbels of 7 to 9 flowers; otherwise flowers are solitary, white in colour with 5 petals and sepals. In this species, flowers are produced in axillary umbels of up to 9 flowers, each flower about 7 mm in diameter, produced from December to January.

Sannantha produce a capsule-fruit. In this species, they are to 4 mm in diameter.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

Sannantha crassa is a hardy medium shrub. Both growth habit and flowers are attractive features.

In our cold climate garden (near Armidale) plants rarely exceed one metre in height.

Many native insects are attracted to the flowers. Light pruning after flowering will result in denser plants with more flowers. 

Plant on a well-drained soil in full sun to part shade.


Propagation is rapid from cuttings.

Other information

Sannantha crassa has had a botanical identity crisis. Firstly, the species was included in the Baeckea virgata complex then became Babingtonia crassa and finally becoming S. crassa.

Sannantha is a genus of 15 species: 11 occurring in Australia (Victoria to north Queensland) and 4 in New Caledonia. 7 species occur in NSW.

This species likely regenerates from suckering basal and branch stems after fire as well as any seed bank.

Sannanthathis genus is named after Sanna Wilson – the wife of NSW Herbarium Botanist and Myrtaceae expert, Peter Wilson, who described and established this genus.

crassa – Latin meaning ‘thick’ – referring to the thick-textured feel of the leaves of the species.

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

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

Hunter Landcare – Lesser Known Natives of the Hunter Valley https://hunterlandcare.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Lesser-Known-Natives-of-the-Hunter-Valley-sml.pdf

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke