Sweet pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum)

Photo: (c) Geoff Derrin CC-BY-SA-4.0 license

Family: Pittosporaceae

Photo: (c) Forest & Kim Starr

Growth Habit: This evergreen tree is a native of mainland Australia. It grows between 4-14 m in height making it one of our tallest weeds. The leaves vary from light to dark green depending on maturity. Its glossy leaves are entire with wavy margins and are alternately arranged or clustered at the tips of the branches. The older stems are covered in a smooth light grey to brownish-coloured bark. Younger shoots are hairless (i.e. glabrous) or slightly hairy (i.e. puberulent) and green or reddish-brown in colour.

Type of Plant: A long-lived large shrub to small tree.

Photo: (c) Forest Kim Starr

Flowers: Scented creamy-white bell shaped flowers, 10 – 20 mm long, form at the ends of stems in clusters during early spring. Flowers have 5 petals that are bent back at the tips.

Photo: (c) Forest & Kim Starr

Fruit/Seed: The fruit are orange berries, about 10 mm across,  which ripen in autumn to winter and contain a sticky red seed.

Dispersal: Reproduces from seed with the help of birds who eat the fruit then excrete the seed, giving the plant excellent dispersal reliant upon the birds range.

Distribution: An garden escapee which can be found in both disturbed and undisturbed bushland areas throughout Tasmania. Although very hardy, it needs to grow where there is ample moisture available.

Status: Undeclared. Native to the coastal and sub-coastal districts of eastern Australia, but regarded as a significant environmental weed in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, Western Australia and on Lord Howe Island.

Weed Impact:

  • Capable of invading and dominating bushland, and excluding native flora and fauna.

For further information contact the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania.

Control Methods:

  • Grubbing (spring). Seedlings and small bushes are easily removed manually.
  • Herbicide (summer, spring and autumn). Glyphosate or metsulfuron could be used on larger bushes using the cut stump method. The stem injection or basal methods are also suitable techniques.

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.