Psydrax odorata subsp. buxifolium (RUBIACEAE) Shiny-leaved Canthium, Stiff Canthium

Plants to Plant

Small tree or shrub to 5 m high, mostly smaller, branches stiff, in dry rainforest in coastal districts north from the Hunter Valley and on rocky slopes and ridges in inland districts, widespread. Leaves ovate to elliptic to 4.5 cm, apex obtuse (rather wide-angled at the tip, not drawn out to a fine point). The upper surface of the leaf blade is dark green and glossy, lower surface paler, 1 or 2 domatia sometimes present, petiole 1-5 mm long. Previously known as Canthium buxifolium and Canthium odoratum and has seen a lot of name changes. A favourite location for jumping spiders in spring and summer, they seem to like this plant to stalk prey. Seen in remnant patches along Enoggera, Fish and Ithaca Creeks. A useful Enoggera species, food for birds.
Photo: Robert Whyte


Flowers few to several in pedunculate (stalked), fragrant white flower clusters late spring to summer. Fruit is a drupe, compressed-globose to ovoid, 6-8 mm diameter, black, ripe March to November. Prefers well-drained soils and shelter from full sun. Slow growing and frost tender, especially when young. Propagation by seed separated from fruit pulp, may germinate best after soaking in water for 24 hours, discarding any seeds that float. Psydrax is a genus of about 100 species, mainly found in tropical areas. It is related to the genus Canthium and most Australian canthiums have been transferred to Psydrax.

Photo: Robert Whyte

What is a Drupe? 

In botany, a drupe is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a shell (the pit or stone) of hardened endocarp with a seed inside. The definitive characteristic of a drupe is that the hard, lignified stone (or pit) is derived from the ovary wall of the flower. Other fleshy fruits may have a stony enclosure that comes from the seed coat surrounding the seed. These fruits are not drupes. The term stone fruit can be a synonym for drupe or, more typically, it can mean just the fruit of the Prunus species. Drupes, with their sweet, fleshy outer layer, attract the attention of animals as a food, and the plant population benefits from the resulting dispersal of its seeds. The endocarp (pit or stone) is often swallowed, passing through the digestive tract, and returned to the soil in faeces with the seed inside unharmed; sometimes it is dropped after the fleshy part is eaten. (From Wikipedia)

The peach is a typical drupe (stone fruit). Photo: Jack Dykinga, from Wikipedia Commons