Lophostemon suaveolens (MYRTACEAE) Swamp Box

Plants to Plant

Large tree with red-brown, fibrous-papery, persistent bark. Grows in sclerophyll forest, widespread and common in coastal districts, often on swampy ground or alluvial flats. Leaves ovate (egg-shaped) to elliptic, to 15 cm long, 4-5 cm wide, tip blunt or shortly pointed, base rounded to cuneate (wedge-shaped), leathery, light green, petiole 10-20 mm long. Host plant for larvae of Miskins or Coral Jewel Hypochrysops miskini, Fiery Jewel Hypochrysops ignita and possibly Rare Red-eye or Ornate Dusk-flat Chaetocneme denitza. A common and widespread tree in the Enoggera catchment, especially in disturbed areas where it self sows freely if moist enough. Likes wetter conditions than the Brush Box, and has a more twisted, gnarled appearance. Should be a staple ingredient of plantings but often overlooked as it can sometimes look scrappy, and is not a favoured garden tree. A good habitat tree and possibly lives longer than Brush Box which can suffer in prolonged drought because it grows further away from water.

Photo: Robert Whyte


Inflorescences (flowering parts) 3-7-flowered cymes, white, October – December, can be throughout summer.

Photo: Robert Whyte


The fruit is persistent, lighter coloured and smaller than the fruit of the Brush Box. It propagates readily in moist potting mix after about a week. A small amount of fruit can yield a great amount of seed, usually ready to pick in January. Keep the fruit in a large paper bag in a sunny spot until it releases its seed, then scatter this across the surface of a tray of potting mix and water in.

Photo: Robert Whyte