Zieria pilosa

Hairy Zieria

Family: Rutaceae

A shrub, growing to 1 metre tall, with a spread to 0.5 metres.

It has a wide coastal distribution on the NSW Coast, with disjunct records around Coffs Harbour and Taree, west to near Dunedoo, to east of Mudgee, south-east to the Greater Sydney area, southern highlands and Nowra where most of the distribution is, with disjunct records to south of Eden.

It can be found growing in dry and wet sclerophyll woodland and forest, as well as heath, on sandy soils.

Zieria spp. have leaves arranged in opposite pairs, compound with three leaflets (tri-foliolate) or one leaflet (uni-foliolate). When trifoliolate, the leaflets are often similar in shape with the middle leaflet often larger, and with leaves usually strongly odorous, green to grey-green. In this species, leaves are tri-foliolate, with linear leaflets, to 25 mm long and 7 mm wide, with a distinctive point (mucro), with upper surface dark green and lower surface paler with hairs.

Zieria spp. have flowers arranged in groups (cymose clusters) in the leaf axils and have four sepals joined at the base and four petals, alternating with the sepals. There are four stamens and four fused carpels. In this species, the flowers are white to pale pink, and are usually arranged solitarily in leaf axils (or in clusters of up to 7), typically shorter than leaves, occurring in spring and early summer.

Zieria have a fruit described as a schizocarp-capsule which splits into segments called cocci (singular coccus). Fruit generally have four cocci, each containing one or two seeds. In this species, the cocci are hairless to hairy and lack an oil body (elaisome).

In the garden

This species is not known to be cultivated and there is not a lot of garden information available. It may become more common in cultivation in the future.

It grows naturally on sandy soils and has a wide geographic range, so could make a nice garden plant.

Many Zieria make interesting garden plants and deserve a place in gardens. They are a member of the Rutaceae family which include the genera Boronia, Philotheca and Crowea, all of which can be challenging to grow.

Some species are more commonly grown. They require good drainage, preferably on a light sandy soil and a semi-shaded area. They have soft foliage, can be pruned into nice-rounded shrubs and can flower prolifically.


In common with most members of the Rutaceae, propagation from seed is difficult but cuttings usually strike readily from current season’s growth.

Other information

Zieria is a genus of strongly odorous soft-woody shrubs, or small trees, with over 40 species described, all of which are endemic to Australia except for one species which is found in New Caledonia. They occur in all Australian states except Western Australia but the genus is under review and a number of species are yet to be described or the description published. NSW currently has 34 species, some which are species-complex.

Zieria are similar to the better known genus Boronia but can be distinguished by the number of stamens in the flowers – four and eight in Boronia.

Zierianamed in honour of Jan Zier (d. 1793), by Sir James E. Smith. Zier was a Polish botanist and cryptogam (ferns, mosses, lichen and fungi) specialist, for which there is little information online. He assisted Jacob Friedrich Ehrhart, the Director of the Botanical Garden of Hannover.

pilosa – Latin – meaning “hairy” or “pilose”, referring to the leaves.

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

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

Wikipedia – Zieria and Zieria pilosa profile pages                               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zieria                                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zieria_pilosa

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.