Plants of Melbourne's Western Plains:
A Gardener's Guide to the Original Flora, 2nd Edition
Trees and Shrubs - Part 1 of 3
Hover over the picture for plant information.
Plant names are linked to list of photos in iNaturalistAU
Gold Dust Wattle
A very ornamental shrub (H 1.5m, W 2m) with small leaves on arching stems. Adds a burst of colour to any garden and is best used in a sunny position to maximise the abundant bright yellow ball flowers. The tips of new growth are often red. Yellow flowers in late winter to spring.
Prefers well-drained soils in sun or semi-shaded area. Suitable for planting in dappled shade under eucalypts. Plant in drifts for impact. May sucker if planted on slopes or embankments.
Acacia dealbata ssp.
An attractive fast-growing tree (H 8—15m, W 4—8m) with grey-green feathery leaves. Yellow, perfumed flowers in early winter to spring. Prefers a moist, sheltered position, in full sun or semi-shade. Suckers often form a dense copse.
Tolerates poor drainage and inundation.
A graceful tree (H 6—8m, W 3—6m) with an open crown. Sickle-shaped green leaves. Rough bark. Clusters of cream/yellow flowers in profusion in summer, and occasionally at other times. Usually found on dry sites along watercourses, stoney rises and valley slopes.
A very hardy, drought-tolerant species that copes well in exposed situations. Its upright growth habit and light crown makes it a useful screening plant, which allows for understorey plantings with species such as Correa glabra and Lomandra longifolia.
A fast-growing tree (H 8—12m, W 8—12m) with dark green, feathery foliage. Perfumed, pale yellow flowers in mid to late spring.
Prefers a sunny position in dry, well-drained soils.
Provides a food source for Sugar Gliders, butterfly caterpillars and insect- and seed-eating birds.
Fast-growing (H 5—15m, W 3—10m) with dark green leaves and clusters of creamy yellow flowers in late winter and early spring.
Prefers moist, well-drained soils in a sheltered position. Tolerates periodic inundation. Ideal screen or windbreak in higher rainfall zones. Growth is often stunted in exposed situations.
A dense, thorny shrub (H 2m, W 2—3m) with small dark-green leaves. Large, ornamental, golden-yellow ball flowers in profusion during spring.
Suitable for most situations in well-drained soils. An excellent bird habitat plant, often used as a replacement for boxthorn in revegetation works.
Avoid planting near pathways because of thorns.
(formerly Acacia retinodes
Wirilda or Swamp Wattle
A fast-growing, upright or spreading shrub or small tree (H 4—6m, W 3—5m). Long narrow leaves. Clusters of pale yellow ball flowers in summer, flowering intermittently at other times.
Occurs naturally in sheltered riparian zones. Generally limited to the drier parts of the catchment. It will tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, in either full sun or semi-shade. May be short lived in cultivation, up to 10 years.
A fast-growing shrub or small tree (H 4—6m, W 3—5m) with large, glossy, bright green leaves. Bronze-coloured new growth is a feature. A profusion of large, scented, golden ball flowers in winter and spring.
Prefers a sunny position in dry, well-drained soils. Often short lived in cultivation, growing for 7—10 years. Common on valley slopes and woodlands, where it can form a copse of slender stems.
(formerly Acacia verniciflua
Bacchus Marsh variant)
Bacchus Marsh Wattle
A showy wattle (H 1—6m, W 1—5m) and an excellent garden specimen. Extremely floriferous, with yellow ball flowers in spring. A small or tall multi-stemmed shrub with a dense, rounded crown, it often forms a lovely weeping habit.
A rare plant with only small population remaining in the wild near Bacchus Marsh and Werribee where it grows in low, hilly country on brown clay in low density Eucalyptus woodland.
A prickly shrub (H 2—4m, W 2—4m), upright or spreading, with branches of dark green, needle-like leaves. Bright yellow cylindrical flowerheads in winter and spring.
Prefers a sheltered position in moist well-drained soils. Has a compact growth habit and is fast growing.
Important habitat plant that offers protection for small birds.
A small and graceful tree (H 6—8m, W 2—5m), requiring well-drained soils. Pyramid shaped with separate male and female plants. Flowers for many months but mostly in winter.
Suited to dry, gravelly soils in full sun or light shade. Most common on rises or outcrops of sedimentary origin.
Buloke or Bull Oak
A slow-growing, erect tree (H 8—15m, W 5—10m), with long, fine, dull-green branchlets. Attractive rough bark.
Tolerates inundation and dry spells. Prefers basalt soils. Plays host to two species of mistletoe.
Once common around Melton, now severely depleted.
A medium—sized tree (H 6—8m, W 3—6m). Occurs over a wide variety of soils and aspects, from Coastal Dunes to Red Gum and Box Woodlands. Once common from Oaklands to Williamstown.
Fast-growing with a dense, rounded crown and graceful, drooping, grey-green foliage when mature, erect and ungainly when immature. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. The male flowers are brown tassels, and the female flowers are small red brushes along the stems, followed by cones. Prefers an open, sunny position in well-drained soils.
Drought tolerant. Attractive when planted in groups. Provides dense shade and is a useful windbreak. The branchlets sigh and whistle on windy days.
Coastal or Grey Saltbush
A hardy shrub (H 1—2m, W 1—2m) with silvery foliage ideal for hot, sunny positions. Plants may be either male or female, with the small fleshy fruit developing in autumn on the female shrubs. Male plants have reddish-purple flowers, while female plants have cream flowers. Occasional plants may be of both sexes.
Requires full sun and a well-drained position. Tip pruning after flowering encourages bushy growth.
A small tree (H 4—8m, W 1—5m). Dark green leaves with silver undersides. Yellow flower spikes in summer and autumn. The tree form was once common on basalt soils but it is now rare on the Western Plains.
Prefers an open position in moist, well-drained soils. Not suited to dry escarpments. An attractive specimen plant, useful for screening or group plantings. The nectar-rich flowers are attractive to a wide range of wildlife. The seed cones are a food source for Black Cockatoos.
Bursaria spinosa var. spinosa
A large shrub or small tree (H 4—6m, W 2—3m). Small, dark green, glossy leaves and thorns along stiff stems. Masses of small, creamy, fragrant flowers at the ends of branches in late spring and summer.
Prefers a sunny position in well-drained soils. Very hardy and adaptable. Will not tolerate wet or poorly drained soils. A useful plant for screening or windbreaks. An important plant for the life cycle of the Bright Copper Butterfly and other insects.
(synonym Melaleuca paludicola
A large, open shrub (H 2—5m, W 2—3m )with a weeping habit. Stiff, narrow green leaves and silky bronze-coloured new growth. It has attractive cream, occasionally pink, bottlebrush flowers in late spring and summer.
Found along watercourses in areas prone to flooding. Tolerant of wet, poorly drained soils, it also copes with extended dry periods. Tip pruning encourages denser growth and promotes flowering. Can tolerate severe pruning.
White Cypress Pine
A very slow-growing, erect tree (H 8—12m, W 5—10m). Dense blue-green foliage. Prefers dry, well- drained soils.
Does well on rocky escarpments on basalt or sedimentary soils. An extremely ornamental species, adorned with rounded seed cones in summer. The timber is termite and rot resistant. Now rare south of the Great Dividing Range.
An upright shrub (H 1—2m, W 1—2m), with small, narrow, crowded, dark green leaves. Bears masses of small, white to pale-pink flowers in late spring. The reddish-brown calyx at the back of the flower persists after flowering and is an ornamental characteristic of this species. The leaves have a spicy lemon scent when crushed.
Restricted on the plains to flood-prone riparian zones along Jacksons Creek. Prefers well-drained soils in full sun or semi-shade. Frost resistant and very hardy. Suitable for use as a cut flower.
A quick growing shrub (H 2m, W 1—2m). Clusters of white flowers mostly in summer. Generally short lived.
Occurs mostly on sedimentary soils in the upper catchment area.
Good plant for colour at Christmas time. Also an excellent insect-attracting plant.
Cassinia arcuata (Cassinia sifton)
A fast-growing, rounded shrub (H 1—2m, W 1—1.5m). Small, dark green leaves and a profusion of small, golden brown flowers in summer and autumn.
Suitable for most situations except very wet soils. A short-lived species that often self seeds. Crushed leaves and flowers produce a delightful curry scent.
A fast-growing, rounded shrub (H 1.5—2m, W 1.5—2m), bearing masses of tiny white flowers, mostly in summer. The flowers and foliage are pleasantly aromatic.
Most common and often abundant on sedimentary soils, although will occasionally grow on basalt soils in Grey Box Woodlands. Tolerates a sunny or semi-shaded aspect. Prune hard after flowering to maintain a bushy shape.
(H 1—2m, W 2—3m) Dark green, oblong leaves contrast with the yellow-green tubular flowers along the stems. Peak flowering time is from May to August, but flowers can appear from February to September. An attractive and easily grown shrub, ideal for many garden situations because of its long flowering period.
Prefers an open, sunny situation in dry, well-drained soils. Tolerates severe pruning. A highly variable shrub in leaf shape and form, with many different forms occurring naturally along waterways. Some are small and compact growing.
A wiry, rounded shrub or groundcover (H 50cm, W 50—100cm), with small, dark- green leaves on stiff branches. Clusters of small white flowers in winter and spring. Flowers sometimes fade to pink.
Prefers a sunny or lightly shaded situation in well-drained sedimentary soils.
Slow-growing. A highly ornamental species suited to rockeries or containers. Self seeds after fires.