Butterbush

Description

Common names

Butterbush, Weeping Pittosporum, Berrigan, Native Willow, Native Apricot, Western Pittosporum, Apricot Tree, Bitter Bush, Cattle Bush, Poison Berry Tree.

Scientific names

Pittosporum angustifolium, Pittosporum phyllireaoides.

Family

Pittosporaceae.

Genus

Pittosporum.

Name origin

From Greek pitte, to pitch, and sporos, seed, referring to seed covered by dark sticky substance in many Pittosporums.

Rainfall

300mm.

Growth rate

Slow.

Growth height

Up to 10m.

Presence in Australia

West of the Olympic Highway, usually in isolated clumps. Probably previously more common.

This specie has been identified in the following Australian states: Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic, SA, NT, WA.

Habitat

Woodland and mallee, and widespread on sandy soils in the arid zone.

Habit

Shrub or small tree to 10m high. Virtually hairless with drooping branches, whitish or mottled trunk, narrow leaves 4-12cm long and characteristic orange fruit.

Site preference

Tolerates drought and frost. Prefers full sun. Resents waterlogging.

Characteristics

Very hardy. Slow-growing but long-lived. Highly palatable to stock.

Flowering

Yellow to cream, winter-spring. Fragrant.

Seed collection

Early Dec to late May.

Propagation

From fresh seed (±50 viable seeds per gram) or cuttings. Remove germination inhibitor from sticky seed by washing seed in detergent and rubbing with dry sand for several minutes before sowing. Germinates in 2-3 months.

Regeneration

Suckers readily.

Shade and shelter

Useful low-level cover in windbreaks.

Land protection

Useful for stabilising banks.

Timber

Timber close-grained, light-coloured and very hard. Turned into small articles such as tool handles.

Wildlife

Good habitat. Sticky seeds eaten by birds.

Koori

Uses varied with location. Some clans ate gum from wounded branches. Others pounded seed into edible flour. An infusion was prepared from leaves, seed or wood to relieve internal pain and cramp, and treat colds, sprains, eczema and itching.

Ornamental

Very decorative ornamental for parks and gardens. Graceful weeping habit and attractive orange fruit.

Other

Cut for fair emergency fodder during drought.