Greek pitta — pitch or resin, spora — seed, referring to the sticky resin surrounding the seeds of many species.
Evergreen trees and shrubs; short shoots often present, sometimes spinose in younger developmental stages. Leaves in wetter sites appear whorled at ends of branches, in drier sites leaves cluster, stem clasping; margins entire, recurving, wavy, occasionally lobed. Altitudinal clines cause extreme variations in leaf size, shape and thickness. Flower clusters branched or flowers occasionally solitary. Flowers are mainly terminal at ends of branches or on short shoots; unisexual, fragrant; male flowers usually more numerous. Petals often briefly cohering towards the middle of a floral tube, apices then recurved; mainly cream, rarely bicoloured maroon-cream in Australian species. Fruit capsular, with 1 chamber only, 0(indehiscent)-2-valved, rarely 3 in Australia, 3-4 valves common in New Zealand species; chunky seeds fairly numerous and always immersed in a sticky resin.
Cultivar information provided with the assistance of Robert Harrison.
Now excluding the new genus Auranticarpa (P. rhombifolium) but including Citriobatus.
Grown for the attractive foliage, flowers and fruits, sometimes as hedges.
New Zealand species tend to have 3-4 cotyledons, a persistent involucre at the base of the inflorescence, stamens at mostly 3 differing heights, (similar to Hymenosporum and Marianthus in Australia) and generally a papery lining surrounding the seeds (see P. multiflorum).
20 species in Australia, a further 80-100 overseas, mainly with a southern hemisphere distribution.
Almost always by cuttings (rarely by grafting), rarely by seed. (The variegated forms of P. eugenioides must be vegetatively cloned, as the cotyledons do not contain chlorophyll).
Seeds joined in a sticky mass, in a mostly 2-4-valved capsule.
Cooper (1956), Haas (1977), Cayzer (1997), Cayzer et al. (2000b).
Source: (2002). Pittosporaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.