Gossia bidwillii (MYRTACEAE); Python tree, ironwood

Austromyrtus hillii - trunk - Graham Stephens  2002
Austromyrtus bidwillii trunk - Graham Stephens © 2002
(Prev. known as Austromyrtus bidwillii)

Small to medium tree up to 18m tall from Hunter River, NSW to Coen, Nth QLD in dry and subtropical rainforest. Common at various altitudes, up to 1100 m in the north.

Bendy, strikingly mottled green and brown trunk, with a cool, smooth feel.

Leaves almost round, very smooth and shiny, with a strong, somewhat cinnamon smell when crushed.

Flowers white, single or clustered on stalks from leaf axils, from Oct. to Dec.

Fruit a black globular berry to 6mm in diameter, ripe Jan. - May.

Suitable size for a small garden. Can be difficult to establish and it is slow growing. Usually only a shrub or small tree in cultivation, though some specimens to 25m are known from the wild. Requires good drainage and responds well when soil is fertile.

Edible - the ripe fruit are sweet and are also enjoyed by birds.

Propagate from fresh seed (with a short viability). Cuttings are difficult to strike.

Gossia bidwillii - flower & passenger - Bruce Noble © 2005
Bidwillii after Bidwill, John Carne (1815 - 1853), botanist and collector. First arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, in September 1838. Visited New Zealand (Bay of Plenty and central North Island) from 5 February until April 1839, and again in 1840, and Moreton Bay, Queensland in 1841, before returning to England in 1843. He returned to Sydney in 1844, travelling from there to New Zealand in the same year and Tahiti in 1845. First Director of Botanic Gardens, Sydney, and Government Botanist, (September1847–January 1848). Commissioner of Crown Lands, Wide Bay, Queensland (then N.S.W.) from 1848. Collected extensively, and published the first account of the Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii). He sent many living plants and seeds to various gardens in England, including Kew, and advised William Macarthur, among others, on the introduction of plants to the colony of New South Wales. He was also an accomplished plant hybridizer. He established a botanical garden in Tinana, Qld, a suburb of Maryborough.