Major families

Major families

Myrtaceae: Eucalypts, Bottlebrushes and Tea Trees

The plant family Myrtaceae contains nearly 6,000 species across more than 120 genera. More than 80 species across 23 genera can be found on campus. Myrtaceae is one of the most diverse plant families in Australia. Plants from this family are important for food, fibre and medicine for Aboriginal people. They occupy a diverse range of habitats and are fascinating in the diversity of form of leaves, fruit and flowers.

In addition to the Eucalypts, the following plants within the Myrtaceae family are found on campus.

Agonis flexuosa - WA Weeping Myrtle
Austromyrtus dulcis - Midyim
Austromyrtus tenuifolia -
Narrow-leaf Myrtle
Backhousia anisata - Aniseed Myrtle
Backhousia citriodora -
Lemon Scented Myrtle
Backhousia myrtifolia - Grey Myrtle
Baeckea linifolia - Flax-leaf Heath Myrtle
Callistemon citrinus - Crimson Bottlebrush
Callistemon linearis - Narrow-leaved Bottlebrush
Callistemon salignus - Willow Bottlebrush
Callistemon salignus 'Rubra' - Willow Bottlebrush 'Rubra'
Callistemon viminalis ‘Hannah Ray’ - Weeping Bottlebrush ‘Hannah Ray’
Calothamnus quadrifidus - One-sided Bottlebrush
Darwinia citriodora -
Lemon-scented Darwinia
Decaspermum humile (D. parviflorum) – Silky Myrtle
Kunzea ambigua - Tick Bush
Kunzea baxteri - Scarlet Kunzea
Leptospermum petersonii - Lemon-scented Tea-tree
Leptospermum polygalifolium -
Yellow Tea-tree
Leptospermum trinervium - Paperbark Tea-tree
Lophostemon confertus - Brush Box
Lophostemon suaveolens - Swamp Turpentine
Melaleuca linearifolia - Snow in Summer
Melaleuca alternifolia - Ti Tree
Melaleuca armillaris - Bracelet Honey Myrtle
Melaleuca ericifolia - Swamp paperbark
Melaleuca quinquenervia – Paperbark
Melaleuca styphelioides - Prickly Paperbark
Melaleuca thymifolia - Thyme Honey-myrtle
Metrosideros excelsa - NZ Christmas Tree
Ristantia pachysperma - Yellow Penda
Syncarpia glomulifera – Turpentine
Syzygium australe - Brush Cherry
Syzygium canicortex - Water Gum
Syzygium coolminianum - Blue Lilly Pilly
Syzygium francisii - Giant Water Gum
Syzygium leuhmannii – Riberry
Syzygium paniculatum - Magenta Lilly Pilly, Magenta Cherry
Syzygium smithii (Acmena smithii) - Lilly Pilly
Syzygium wilsonii - Weeping Lilly Pilly
Tristania neriifolia - Water Gum
Tristaniopsis laurina - Water Gum
Tristaniopsis suaveolens - Paperbark Mahogany
Waterhousia floribunda - Lilly Pilly
Xanthostemon chrysanthus - Golden Penda

Proteaceae: Banksia, Grevillea and relatives

The Proteaceae family includes over 1600 known species. In Sydney, the main groups are Banksias, Grevilleas, Hakeas and Geebungs. The Waratah, Telopea speciosissima) is the floral emblem of NSW. Members of the Proteaceae family can be found predominantly in the southern hemisphere especially Australia and Southern Africa. Geebungs (Persoonia sp.) are one of the few genera featuring fleshy fruits. Most other genera have hard, woody capsules.

Plants in this family are usually found n low nutrient soils. They have specially adapted fine roots fro accessing limited nutrients. You can find the following species on campus, particularly in the Proteaceae section of the Earth Sciences garden.

Adenanthos x cunninghamii - Prostrate Woollybush
Adenanthos sericeus 'Silver Streak' -
Albany Woollybush
* Banksia ericifolia -
Heath Banksia
Banksia integrifolia - Coastal Banksia
* Banksia marginata - Silver Banksia
* Banksia oblongifolia – Fern-leaved Banksia
Banksia robur - Swamp Banksia
* Banksia serrata - Old Man Banksia
* Banksia spinulosa - Hairpin Banksia
Buckinghamia celsissima - Ivory Curl Tree
Grevillea hilliana  - Hill’s Silky Oak
Grevillea ‘Moonlight’ - Grevillea ‘Moonlight’ 
Grevillea ‘Winpara Gem’ (G. olivacea x G. thelemanniana) - Grevillea ‘Winpara Gem’
Grevillea baileyana - White Oak
Grevillea banksii ‘Red’ - Red Silky Oak
Grevillea robusta - Silky Oak
Grevillea rosmarinifolius 'Scarlet Sprite'
Grevillea shiressii -
Blue Grevillea
* Hakea dactyloides – Broad-leaved Hakea
Hakea laurina - Pincushion Hakea
Hakea salicifolia - Willow-leaved Hakea
* Hakea sericea – Needlebush
* Hakea teretifolia – Needlebush
* Isopogon anemonifolius – Broad-leaf Drumsticks
* Lambertia formosa - Mountain Devil
Lomatia myricoides - Long-leaf lomatia
Macadamia integrifolia - Macadamia nut
Macadamia ternifolia - Gympie Nut
Macadamia tetraphylla - Rough-shelled Queensland Nut
* Persoonia levis – Broad-leaved Geebung
Persoonia linearis – Narrow-leaved Geebung
* Persoonia pinifolia – Pine-leaved Geenbung (Mambara)
* Petrophile pulchella – Conesticks
Stenocarpus sinuatus - Qld Fire Wheel Tree
Telopea speciosissima x T. monganensis - Waratah 'Braidwood Brilliant'

* these species can be found in bushland on campus

Fabaceae: Peas etc

The Fabaceae is a large family that includes three major subfamilies: Faboideae (Egg and Bacon and other native Peas), Mimosoideae (Wattles) and Caesalpinioideae (Cassia, Senna and Blackbean)

The Fabaceae is a significant family in the Sydney region. There is a broad diversity of species and they play an important part in the structure and function of various plant communities (AULD, 1996). Diversity of species is highest in vegetation on sandstone soils, particularly heath communities. Local natives on campus mostly fal into the subfamily Faboideae and Mimosoideae. Members of the subfamily Caesalpinioideae include species from northern Australian rainforests (Black Bean) and the northern hemisphere (Cassia).

Wattles (Mimosoideae) flower mostly in winter and early spring. The Peas (Faboideae) flower mostly in spring.

Most species in the Fabaceae family produce woody pods as fruit. All species are nitrogen fixers, enabling them to grow in low nutrient soils. The following trees and large shrubs can be found on campus.


Bossiaea heterophylla
Bossiaea obcordata
- Spiny Bossea
Castanospermum australe - Black Bean
Chorizema chordata - Heart-leaf Flame Pea
Daviesia ulicifolia
- Gorse Bitter pea
Desmodium varians - Slender Tick-trefoil
Dillwynia floribunda - Parrot Pea
Erythrina crista-galli
- Cockspur Coral Tree
Erythrina X sykesii - Coral Tree
Hardenbergia violacea - False Sarsaparilla
Indigofera australis - Australian Indigo
Platylobium formosum - Handsome Flat Pea
Pultenaea flexilis - Gracefull Bush Pea
Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ - Golden Robinia


Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Sunburst’- Honey Locust
Bauhinia purpurea - Orchid Tree
Cassia fistula - Golden Rain Tree


List of Wattles

Ericaceae: Heaths and Rhododendrons

This family includes the heaths of Europe and Australia, the Rhododendrons and Azaleas of Asia, and the Huckleberries and Blueberries of North America. Species in this family are found on tropical mountains and in the Arctic, but most commonly on poorly drained, peat soils in the temperate zone.

There is an Ericaceae garden bed in the Frank Mercer Biological Sciences garden that showcases the diversity of this plant family.

Australian members of this family usually have small tubular pink or white flowers and small hard leaves. They are pollinated mostly by bees and other insects. They provide much of the beauty of the Sydney bushland in late winter and early spring.

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