Native Cherry

Description

Common names

Native Cherry, Cherry Ballart, Wild Cherry, Palatt, Ballot, Cypress Cherry, Forest Cherry.

Scientific names

Exocarpos cupressiformis.

Family

Santalaceae.

Genus

Exocarpos.

Name origin

Exocarpos, from Greek exo, outside, plus carpos, fruit, as the succulent pedicel or flower stalk resembles the pericarp or fruit wall below the nut. Cupressiformis, meaning cypress-form, referring to resemblance to Cypress species.

Rainfall

400mm+.

Growth rate

Slow, moderate.

Growth height

Up to 8m.

Presence in Australia

Widespread across entire region.

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

Habitat

Various habitats and soils, including open forest and woodland.

Habit

Shrub or small tree to 8m high. Dense yellowish-green or bronzy foliage.

Similar species

Distinguish from other Cherry in region, Dwarf Cherry (Exocarpos strictus) mainly by its greater size.

Site preference

Poor shallow soils.

Characteristics

Parasitises roots of surrounding plants when young.

Flowering

Cream, mainly Oct-May, and throughout year. Inconspicuous.

Seed collection

Early Oct to late Mar. Monitor closely as seeds released 3-14 days after maturity.

Propagation

Difficult. From seed or cuttings. Untreated seed may take 6-18 months to germinate. Bird-ingested seed (passed through hens) extracted and sown into pots with host plants such as Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra) has germinated. Thought that seedlings should be planted out within 12 months of germination near plants of families Casuarinaceae, Fabaceae, Mimosaceae, Myrtaceae or Proteaceae. For cuttings, jam a sharp spade into soil at intervals around trees. Damaged roots will sucker. Transplant root suckers.

Regeneration

Suckers vigorously from damaged roots.

Shade and shelter

Useful low-level cover in windbreaks. Plant on leeward side as plants are brittle (although coppice readily). Foliage reputedly poisonous to livestock, although grazed by kangaroos and wallabies.

Timber

Timber pinkish, soft, close-grained and light when dry. Excellent for turning. Was used for tool handles, wheel spokes and gun stocks.

Wildlife

Excellent habitat. Fruit are a food for native birds including Silvereyes, Mistletoebirds, Satin Bowerbirds, Grey Butcherbirds, honeyeaters, currawongs and parrots, many of which disperse seed. Many birds, including the Turquoise Parrot, shelter in dense foliage.

Koori

Juicy part of fruit (stalk) eaten. Spearthrowers and "bullroarers" made from wood. Snake bite reputedly treated with sap.

Ornamental

Excellent ornamental due to attractive fine foliage. Prune or coppice old plants to rejuvenate.