Homalanthus nutans (EUPHORBIACEAE) Native Bleeding Heart

Plants to Plant

Fast-growing shrub or small tree growing to 6 m from southern NSW to north-east Queensland and Melanesia in margins of subtropical rainforest, dry rainforest and in regrowth areas. A very useful pioneer species for rainforest revegetation projects. Leaves are triangular to heart-shaped, peltate, 6-20 mm long, alternate with blade soft, green above, grey green below. Leaves on young trees are often much larger than those on older trees. Flowers are greenish yellow, in terminal racemes, September to December. Fruit is a capsule, bluish white, 2-lobed, 6-9 mm long. Ripe December to March.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Leaf Closeup, Orange

The leaf constantly changes colours through the red-orange range. These leaves can be employed in decorative flower arrangements, but the colour does not last.
Photo: Anne Jones

Leaf Closeup, Red

Aborigines and Chinese miners used freshly crushed leaves to stop bleeding. Samoan healers used the bark of the plant to treat hepatitis.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Painting (Oil Crayons) by Scott Bennett

Scott Bennett was commissioned to do this painting of Native Bleeding Heart for Anne Jones. Formerly called Omalanthus populifolius. Native Bleeding Heart us also known as native or Queensland poplar and bleeding-heart tree. Homalanthus from Greek homalos smooth and anthos a flower, relating to the smooth flowers; populifolius from Latin populus the poplar and folius a leaf, referring to the poplar-like leaves. Nutans from Latin ntus, a nodding, a nod or a downward tendency, in reference to its drooping flowers.

Painting: Scott Bennett