Dodonaea lanceolata

hop bush


Dodonaea lanceolata

F.Muell. 1858

pronounced: doh-DOH-nee-uh lan-see-oh-LAH-tuh

(Sapindaceae — the lychee family)


common name: hop bush

native 4Dodonaea was named for Rembert Dodoens (1517–1585), Flemish physician and botanist, also known by his Latin name of Rembertus Dodonaeus. In 1554 he published a herbal, Cruydeboeck, with 715 images, that divided the plant kingdom into 6 groups. He treated the medical herbs in great detail. The book was translated into French in 1557, into English in 1578, and into Latin in 1583. At the time, it was the most translated work after the bible. It became a work of worldwide renown, and was used as a reference book for two centuries. Lanceolata is from the Latin lancea, a lance or spear, referring to the shape of the leaves.

Dodonaea is predominantly an Australian genus, well-distributed in all states. This plant is one of those collected in 1770 by Banks and Solander during the voyage of the Endeavour. It was collected at the Endeavour River (Cooktown). There are about 69 species, and some 60 of them are endemic to Australia. Most are small shrubs 1–2 m in height, although 2 species are prostrate, and Dodonaea viscosa can be single-stemmed trees of up to 8 m.

Dodonaea can be found in many habitats – rocky ridges, forest, riverine communities, mallee, woodland, shrubland – but not in alpine communities, nor in dense vegetation such as heathland and rainforest. The common name applied to members of the genus, Hop Bush, is because their fruits resemble the hop fruits used in brewing; but Dodonaea is in no way related to the hops (Humulus lupulus) used for making beer.

Our plant, Dodonaea lanceolata, is an erect shrub to 1.5 m high. The leaves are simple, oblong to oblanceolate, shiny and smooth; the margins are thickened and may be wavy, and the colour of the leaves is bright to dull olive-green; they are 3–15 cm by 1–3 cm in size.

The flowers are in terminal panicles, with pedicels mostly 6–8 mm long. The sepals are usually persistent. As with most species of this genus, the inconspicuous flowers have no attraction for pollinators, not even nectar. The pollen is wind-dispersed.

The capsule is 3-winged, 1.5–2 cm wide, glabrous; the wings are about 5 mm wide, and membranous. It is green in colour, maturing to red or purple-brown.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2010, by the road to the old Arcadia jetty 2012, and on the Forts walk 2013
Page last updated 14th December 2018