Xanthostemon chrysanthus

Golden Penda

Family: Myrtaceae

A very commonly planted tree, reaching 20 metres tall in its natural habitat.

It is endemic to far northern Queensland, from Townsville to Cape York, forming part of tropical rainforest vegetation.

The leaves are lanceolate and glossy green, to about 15 cm long and 3 cm wide.

The flowers are produced in leaf axils and near the terminals, in head-like clusters which creates a very appealing show. Flowers are bright yellow to fluorescent yellow in colour which is an attractive feature, 5-petaled, about 1.5 cm wide with yellow/golden stamens very showy, up to 3 cm long.

The fruit is a capsule, about 14 mm diameter.

In the garden

A very hardy tree with an attractive canopy and overall form. It has been popular in parks and as a feature planting for some time. The yellow flowers can be produced profusely creating a very attractive shrub. It forms a great part of rainforest and tropical-style gardens.

Relatively easy to grow, although many Myrtaceae trees can take a while to establish and grow. But this is balanced by trees being very long-lived. This species can grow relatively quickly.

It will provide dense shade. Has a nice dense canopy. Needs some room to grow as it will spread out. Expect a 10 to 15 m tree if grown in a garden over time, to about 5 m wide. It can be pruned heavily and turned into a dense topiary or hedging plant and to generally promote flowering.

Likes a well-drained soil with some enrichment. Likes humid conditions.

May be susceptible to Myrtle Rust. May not do as well in temperate areas and will not tolerate frost.


Propagation from seed or semi-hard wood cuttings.

Other information

Some cultivars are available such as ‘Fairhill Gold’, “Expo Gold”. See references below. There are some compact forms available that only grow to 3 m tall.

This plant is the floral emblem of Cairns, Qld.

Fire response unknown. Grows naturally in habitats not prone to fire.

Xanthostemon – from the Greek – xanthos (ξανθός) meaning “blond” or “yellow” and and stêma (στῆμα) meaning “stamen” – referring to the golden conspicuous staminate flowers of the genus.

chrysanthus – from the Greek – chrysos (χρυσός) meaning “gold” and anthos (ανθός) – meaning “flowers”; – again referring to the conspicuous yellow flowers.

This species is not considered to be at risk in the wild. But has a limited distribution.

Gardening with Angus – Xathostemon chrysanthus profile page and ‘Fairhill Gold’ profile page

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