Rhodosphaera rhodanthema (ANACARDIACEAE) Deep Yellowwood

Plants to Plant

A medium-sized tree to 20 m along watercourses. Trunk is usually cylindrical or slightly buttressed. Heartwood bright yellow or yellowish brown when first cut. Coppice and young shoots hairy, downy with rust-coloured hairs which are very prominent on shoots of seedlings and young trees. Alternate, pinnate leaves, the rachis bearing six to twelve leaflets, mostly opposite, scarcely toothed but rather irregular, elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, 4 to 7 cm long and 1 to 2 cm broad, tapering to a blunt point at the tip, and often asymmetrical at the base. Glossy above, dull beneath. Green both surfaces. Broken parts of plant exude a milky sap. Leaf stalks swollen at base, 3 to 8 cm long. Leaflet stalks 3 to 6 mm long.

Photo: Robert Whyte


Flowers are bright red, in large panicles at the ends of the branchlets. Individual flowers about 6 to 9 mm diameter when expanded. Flowers September to October.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Immature Fruit

The fruit in large clusters is green before turning chestnut brown and shiny.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Ripe Fruit and Propagation

The ripe fruit is dark brown and shiny and persistent, it stays on the tree for many months. For propagation, collect brown seed from the ground. Wet blend for up to 60 seconds to scarify. Sow at medium density. Germination takes 2-10 weeks.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Timber and Name

Photo shows what the plant looks like in the nursery. Often as a juvenile the lobes on the leaf are more obvious, these lobes seem to mostly disappear in older plants. Timber is a pleasing yellowish bronze with a silky lustre. Streaky colouring in mustard and bronze. Soft to moderately hard. When cut exudes a thick white or cream gum. Sticky with an astringent taste, cane smell. Rhodosphaera from Greek rhodon rose and sphaera a ball, referring to the reddish fruit of the genus, anthema from Greek anthos a flower, the species name meaning red flower. Related species include the Burdekin plum and the introduced bushland weed Broad-leaved Pepper Tree Schinus terebinthifolia.

Tubestock. Photo: Robert Whyte