Lophostemon confertus (R.Br.) Peter G.Wilson & J.T.Waterh. 1982

pronounced: loff-oh-STEE-mon kon-FUR-tuss

(Myrtaceae – the gum family)

common names:  Queensland Box, Brisbane Box

Lophostemon confertusQueensland box treeLophostemon confertusleaves crowded in groupsLophostemon is from the Greek λοφος (lophos), a tuft of hair, and στημον (stemon), a thread (stamen) – a cluster of stamens; confertus is Latin, compressed, dense. This is one of the three species of this genus found on Magnetic Island, and is usually observed on the hilly slopes of the higher reaches of the island. The tree photographed is by the side of the track leading to the water tank above Arcadia. Its natural range is coastal Queensland and north-eastern NSW. Its habitats range from moist open forest, where in suitable regions it can reach a height of 40 m, to coastal headlands where it usually has a stunted, wind-sheared habit  Typically it develops a single trunk and a rounded to pyramidal canopy. The bark is smooth, beige-coloured, seasonally peeling in flakes to reveal coppery orange to brown patches beneath.

Lophostemon confertusleavesLophostemon confertusleaf detailThe leaves are thick, ovate in shape, a glossy dark green on the upper surface and paler beneath, and are often as much as 15 cm long by 4.5 cm wide, crowded together in groups (usually of 3 to 5) at the ends of twigs. The young shoots are covered with pale prostrate silky hairs, and produce a milky exudate when crushed or broken.

The inconspicuous flowers are white, and occur in threes. The calyx lobes are subulate and caducous. The staminal fascicles are about 10-15 mm long, opposite to the petals. There are numerous stamens, usually more than 70 at each fascicle. Bees are attracted to the flowers.

The fruits are woody bell-shaped capsules, 1 cm or a little more in diameter, included in the calyx tube. They contain linear seeds 2-3 mm long.

The larvae of several Lepidoptera feed on the tree, including:

    • the Common Red-eye Chaetocneme beata;
    • the Rare Red-eye Chaetocneme denitza; and
    • the Eastern Flat Netrocoryne repanda.

The timber of this tree is used in NSW and the southern part of Queensland for flooring and wharf decking, and in earlier times it was used for the making of cobblers’ lasts.

The tree is cultivated and used as a street tree in the southern Australian State capitals and other cities, where a height of 10-15 m and a spread of 6-12 m is usually attained, and also overseas, in the USA and elsewhere. It is considered a good street tree, as it is resistant to diseases and other pests, it tolerates smog, drought and poor drainage, and does not need much upkeep. When it requires lopping to avoid overhead power lines, it usually survives this well. Having a denser foliage than eucalypts, it provides better shade than they do, and, unlike them, it seldom sheds its branches. It tolerates a wide range of soils, but does best in those with a pH of between 4 and 6. Fallen fruit capsules can create a hazard under the trees, especially on hard surfaces.

Photographs taken in Arcadia 2016

Page last updated 23rd January 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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