Lagunaria patersonia (Andrews) G.Don

Cow-itch Tree

A dense, conical, evergreen Tree to about 15 m tall. Leaves ovate to lanceolate, mostly 6-10 cm long, 4-5 cm wide with a blunt tip, scaly above but paler and with more pronounced scurfy scales below. Leaf stalk to 2 cm long. Epicalyx of 3-4 fused bracts, each about 5 mm long, soon shed. Sepals 5, 1-1.5 cm long, fused at the base. Flowers solitary, rosy pink, the 5 petals bending back at maturity, stamens in a central column shorter than the petals; Nov.-Jan. Fruit a capsule 3-4 cm long, about 3 cm wide, the 5 inner chambers lined with sharp hairs; seeds orange-red, kidney-shaped.

Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island

Known as White Oak on Norfolk Island where it is the second most abundant tree apart from Araucaria heterophylla, the Norfolk Island Pine. There is a remarkable hedge-like wind-pruned naturally growing specimen on the island.

P. Green (Kew Bulletin 45:241, 1990) remarks: 'The epithet for this species has been spelt in two ways, patersonia and patersonii. The latter, in the genitive case, would be the usual form for a plant named after someone, in this case Col. William Paterson (1755-1810), one-time Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, who was on Norfolk Island between 1791 and 1793 and sent the seed from there to Britain in 1792. However, ... Sims (1804) stated that, . . . "This plant has been known in a few collections that possess it by the name Patersonia'. Patersonia, therefore, as an intentional substantive name in apposition, seems to be the correct epithet".

Hibiscus-like flowers; white-specked, scaly leaves; dense, regular habit.

VIC: Coburg (De Chene Reserve); Melbourne (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Melbourne Gardens) Tennyson Lawn); Bendigo ('Fortuna'); Fitzroy (Gds); St Arnaud (Queen Mary Gardens); S Melbourne (N Sturt St); Sunshine (HV McKay Memorial Gardens); Williamstown (Williamstown Botanic Gardens); Werribee (Werribee Park).

Green (1994).


P. queenslandica (syn. L. patersonia subsp. bracteatus (Benth.) P.S. Green) occurs in E Queensland.

Source: Beers, L.; Spencer, R. (1997). Hibiscus. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Malvales
family       Malvaceae
genus        Lagunaria (DC.) Rchb.