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Neolitsea dealbata

A common understorey species of rainforests, stream banks and moist areas in open forests. It often colonises disturbed sites and is a typical component of rainforest regrowth.

This is an attractive plant for a shady position in your garden and will be a magnet for wildlife. In its natural range the fruit is sought after by fruit pigeons and other fruit loving birds, including cassowaries and it is also a food source for flying foxes. Additionally, it is a food plant for the larval stages of the Blue Triangle Butterfly (Graphium sarpedon). These are often seen, in season, fluttering around the rainforest trees in the Connections Garden.

Interestingly a Canadian paleobotany research team, led by Dr. David R. Greenwood, has used this species to calculate the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in prehistoric times. They used the stomata concentration of leaves of the living Neolitsea and correlated these to the varying CO2 values of today. This was then used to look at a fossil (genus Litsea) to calculate the CO2 values for the time in which it grew (about 50 million years ago). Essentially they were using it as a living proxy to make inferences about past climates.

Common nameHairy-leaved bollygum, White bollygum
Scientific nameNeolitsea dealbata (R.Br.) Merr.

Genus: Neolitsea — From Greek, neos, meaning ‘new’, and Litsea which is a similar looking species.

Species: dealbata — From Latin, dealbatus, meaning ‘whitewashed’ referring to the white undersurface of the leaf.

DistributionNorth-eastern Queensland to the Illawarra region of south-eastern New South Wales.
Native habitatGrows in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest.
DescriptionShrub or tree to 12 m high.
Flowering/fruitingRed fruit ripening to black in autumn.
Location in gardenIn Beds 2 and 33 on the Connections Garden.
Garden ExplorerView Neolitsea dealbata on Garden Explorer