Margo’s Manuscripts

Muttonwood, Myrsine variabilis, is a great landscape species. It can be used as a filling plant, as a screen to create garden rooms or for hiding a fence line in the suburban garden. It is bushy with shiny green leaves to 10cm long and showy deep pink new growth.  As its usual height is about 8m in cultivation, it can be safely grown near power lines. The small bell-shaped flowers are creamish green in colour and appear in clusters along the branches from June to September. Blue-purple, fleshy fruit are globular and prevalent from November to March. These fruits are sought after by native birds such as fruit doves, lorikeets and fig birds. The young leaves provide nourishment for the white line blue butterfly larvae.

Myrsine variabilis – Photograph courtesy of Neil Murphy.

The natural range for this species is along the east coast from the McIlwraith Range in North Queensland to Batemans Bay in NSW. It is found in beach scrubs, adjacent to mangrove swamps and in forests up to about 1000m altitude and can tolerate a wide variety of soils. Due to its wild-life attracting properties, and hardy nature, it is an ideal lantana replacement plant on larger properties.

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