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Backhousia citriodora

Many of our popular garden plants are grown for their bird attracting qualities, usually for their nectar-producing flowers. But it is also important to provide habitat in the garden for insects and the birds which come to eat them.

As you can see in the photograph, the lemon scented myrtle is very popular with the insects, its creamy-white flowers attracting a wide range of beetles, bees and other insects.

It is called ironwood because of its very hard timber.

Although it is not common in nature, it is popular in cultivation, both in the Queensland tropics and in southern Australia, where it only reaches the size of a tall shrub and can suffer in heavy frosts. The masses of flowers reaching to the ground make it an ideal garden specimen.

All of the Backhousia species, which are found only in Australia, have individual aromatic scents.

Common nameLemon-scented myrtle, lemon ironwood, sweet verbena tree
Scientific nameBackhousia citriodora F. Muell

Genus: After James Backhouse, 19th century nurseryman, plant collector and Quaker missionary.

Species: Refers to the powerful aromatic lemon scent of the leaves, caused by the essential oil citral.

DistributionFrom Mackay south to Brisbane, Queensland.
Native habitatOccurs in coastal scrub and rainforests, often on the rainforest fringes.
DescriptionMedium shrub to medium tree.
Flowering/fruitingFlowers in summer through to autumn.
Location in gardenIs planted near the toilets on Lakeside and can also be found in the Fruit Loop and scattered around the Connections Garden.
Garden ExplorerView Backhousia citriodora on Garden Explorer