Dodonaea viscosa

sticky hop bush


Dodonaea viscosa

(L.) Jacq. 1760

pronounced: doh-DOH-nee-uh viss-KOH-suh

(Sapindaceae — the lychee family)


common name: sticky hop bush

native 4Dodonaea was named for Rembert Dodoens (1517–1585), Flemish physician and botanist; viscosa is from the Latin viscosus, sticky – the leaves are quite sticky. The species is widely distributed throughout the southern hemisphere, and extends northwards into some tropical regions of the northern hemisphere. It can be found in every state and territory of Australia. It is highly variable, and 7 subspecies are recognized:

      • D. viscosa ssp. viscosa, a compact, spreading shrub 1 – 3 m high. The leaves are cuneate to narrow-obovate, 1.5 – 3 cm long. They have a short blunt point, or are occasionally 2 or 3 toothed. This subspecies is generally found in mallee scrub or in open forests, especially in rocky areas, in South Australia, Victoria and NSW.

      • D. viscosa ssp. burmanniana. This is a small tree 2 – 6 m tall with narrower and longer leaves than ssp. viscosa, 6.5 – 15 cm long. It is found from north-east Queensland down the coast to north-east NSW.

      • D. viscosa ssp. angustifolia. This is a compact shrub to about 3 m in height, with leaves much the same length as those of ssp. burmanniana, but much narrower. It is mostly found from south-east Queensland down to Victoria.

      • D. viscosa ssp. cuneata, a spreading shrub to 3 m tall. The leaves are similar to those of ssp. viscosa, but generally a little smaller. It is the main subspecies of inland districts.

      • D. viscosa ssp. mucronulata. This is a shrub with spatulate leaves up to about 6 cm long, and is mainly found in arid areas. It grows well in rocky or sandy soils.

      • D. viscosa ssp. spathulata, a similar shrub to ssp. mucronulata, except for its leaves, which have a narrower base and a shorter stalk. It is generally found in those parts of the country with a more temperate climate.

      • D. viscosa ssp. angustissima, an erect bushy shrub with fine delicate foliage. It has sessile leaves, linear to narrow-oblong, up to about 9 cm in length with an acute tip. It occurs mostly in the southern and central parts of Australia.

I believe that the plants photographed, behind the frontal sand dunes in Horseshoe Bay, belong to ssp. burmanniana.

The flowers are inconspicuous, with no petals, and the species is dioecious. The flowers are small, about 1 cm across. The pollen is wind dispersed, but fertilization does not need to occur for the capsules to develop. In fact, unfertilized ones develop much more quickly than fertilized ones, which can take up to 11 months to mature. As they mature, they change colour from green or cream through to red. The species is extremely hardy, and is able to resprout from the base.

The larvae of the Black-edged Geometrid Cycloprorodes melanoxysta use this as a food plant.

Dodonaea viscosa has traditionally been used by indigenous Australians to treat toothache, cuts, and stingray stings.

Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


Photographs taken at Horseshoe Bay 2014
Page last updated 15th December 2018