Plant Profiles Native Australian Boobiallas

The Myoporum genus is part of the boobialla (Myoporaceae) family. Seventeen of the 30 odd species come from Australia. The Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Malay Archipelago and Mauritius are home to others. They are generally small to medium evergreen shrubs with simple leaves of varying shapes and often resinous stems. The flowers appear singly or in clusters along the branches. They are rather bell-shaped, mostly white and small. Some are pink or purplish. The fruits which follow the flowers are small and often succulent and are thus favoured by birds. Many of these species come from arid or seaside regions so they may make great choices for gardens in similar environments as they will tolerate exposed coastal situations or extended dry periods, as the case may be. Light pruning will help them keep a good shape.

Myoporum floribundum is also called the weeping boobialla. If you like birds and butterflies, this is a good choice. This species is native to sclerophyll forests in New South Wales and Victoria. It has a graceful, pendulous habit with arching branches. The dark green leaves are narrow to the point of being thread-like. They hang vertically and are aromatic when crushed. The white flowers (very occasionally mauve) are also scented and develop in massed clusters during winter and through to summer.

Another Myoporum from temperate inland Australia is Myoporum platycarpum, also known as false sandalwood or sugarwood. It grows to 9 metres and is a favourite with birds and butterflies. It has sticky new growth and dark grey bark which is deeply fissured. The green leaves are thin, lance-shaped and finely toothed. There is an abundance of perfumed white flowers from winter to summer.

Myoporum parvifolium or creeping myoporum is a hardy groundcover with bright green or purplish leaves. It is only 0.2m high and has a spread of 3 metres. From November to March it is covered with small, white or pale pink flowers. It is best suited to partial to full sun and can spread by layering. There are also dwarf, shrubby forms available. It is a good choice for a seaside garden and can withstand heavy frosts.

Myoporum insulare has the common names of boobialla, coastal boobialla or common boobialla. It is native to the coasts of southern New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It may reach 6 metres in height with a similar spread. It has thick fleshy leaves and spreading branches with the foliage extending to ground level. From winter through to summer, it displays white, starry flowers which have purple dots. The fruits are small and edible. This is a very adaptable species and makes an excellent screen or windbreak for exposed conditions. It is also tolerant of heavy frosts.

Most species of myoporum are reasonably adaptable. They will thrive in full sun or part shade but they all like good drainage. Many will cope with alkaline soils, medium to heavy frosts and extended dry periods thus making them suitable for many home situations.