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Lophostemon suaveolens (MYRTACEAE) Swamp Box

Foliage and trunk

Lophostemon
Photo: Robert Whyte

Large tree with red-brown, fibrous-papery, persistent bark. Grows in sclerophyll forest, widespread and common in coastal districts, often on swampy ground or alluvial flats.

Leaves ovate (egg-shaped) to elliptic, to 15 cm long, 4-5 cm wide, tip blunt or shortly pointed, base rounded to cuneate (wedge-shaped), leathery, light green, petiole 10-20 mm long.

Host plant for larvae of Miskins or Coral Jewel (Hypochrysops miskini), Fiery Jewel (Hypochrysops ignita) and possibly Rare Red-eye or Ornate Dusk-flat (Chaetocneme denitza).

A common and widespread tree in the Enoggera Catchment, especially in disturbed areas where it self sows freely if moist enough. Likes wetter conditions than the Brush Box, and has a more twisted, gnarled appearance. Should be a staple ingredient of plantings but often overlooked as it can sometimes look scrappy, and is not a favoured garden tree. A good habitat tree and possibly lives longer than Brush Box which can suffer in prolonged drought because it grows further away from water.

Flowers


Swamp Box
Photo: Robert Whyte

Inflorescences (flowering parts) 3-7-flowered cymes, white, Oct - Dec, can be throughout Summer.

Fruit


Swamp Box
Photo: Robert Whyte

The fruit is persistent, lighter coloured and smaller than the fruit of the Brush Box. It propagates readily in moist potting mix after about a week. A small amount of fruit can yield a great amount of seed, usually ready to pick in January.

Keep the fruit in a large paper bag in a sunny spot until it releases its seed, then scatter this across the surface of a tray of potting mix and water in.