Plant Profiles

A collection of assorted plant profiles from Jeff Howes.

These describe many of the plants that Jeff has successfully grown in his northern Sydney garden.



Persoonia linearis

Persoonia linearis

Persoonia:after Christian Persoon, an 18th/19th century botanist
linearis:having narrow or 'linear' leaves.

Common name: Narrow-leaf Geebung

Persoonia linearis is widespread along the east coast of Australia growing from coast to mountains. There are approximately 90 to 100 species of this plant in Australia.The flowers, borne on the end of the branches are yellow 10 to 15 mm long and cylindrical in bud. Flowering occurs for a long period in summer. The new growth of the thin, flat leaves is very attractive (a pleasant soft green) and the foliage is often used as a ‘filler’ in floral art.


Syzygium paniculatum dwarf form

Syzygium paniculatum dwarf form -- A great screening plant.

Common names:Magenta Cherry, Dwarf Scrub Cherry, Magenta Lilly Pilly.

Syzygium: from Greek syzygos, joined, referring to paired leaves and branchlets of a Jamacian species.
paniculatum: inflorescences that form at the end of each branch, and it is this feature from which the species derives its name (i.e. paniculate).

A large genus of more than 500 species with 52 of them known in Australia. Syzygium paniculatum dwarf form grows naturally in rainforests between Bulahdelah and Jervis Bay and is listed as a vulnerable species in the wild.


Phebalium squamulosum Ssp squamulosum

Phebalium squamulosum Ssp squamulosum

Phebalium:from the Greek phibaleo, a kind of fig.
squamulosum:scaly, referring to the small browny scales on the branches, underside of the leaves and flower storks

Common name: Scaly Phebalium

Phebalium squamulosum is widespread along the east coast of Australia growing from coast to mountains. There are 10 subspecies of this plant and this article is about the most common subspecies – squamulosum.The individual cream to pale yellow terminal flowers are five-petalled and relatively small, but as they occur in clusters they are very conspicuous. The narrow oblong leaves are up to 5 cm long and are shiny on top and a paler silvery/rusty colour underneath.


Backhousia citriodora

Backhousia citriodora -- a plant that should be growing in every ones garden!   by Jeff Howes

Common name: Lemon-scented myrtle, in reference to its highly scented leaves.

Backhousia citriodora belongs to the Myrtaceae family and is endemic to central and southern Queensland (Mackay to Brisbane).

I have been growing this plant for about ten years, in my garden in the  Sydney's northern suburbs. This plant will grow to eight to ten metres high in it natural environment and less the further south from Brisbane you are growing it. Backhousia citriodora apparently will grow as far south as Melbourne, if in a sheltered spot -- a very adaptable plant.


Prostanthera ovalifolia Rosea

Prostanthera ovalifolia Rosea   by Jeff Howes

Prostanthera: from Greek prostheke; an appendix and anthera; an anther, referring to the appendage on the stamens
ovalifolia: referring to the oval shape of the leaves. However, the leaf shape is variable and ranges from lance-shaped, almost circular, oval and even slightly toothed along the margins.

Common names include: Oval-leaf mint bush, purple mint bush and the thousand flowered mint bush.

Prostanthera ovalifolia grows naturally along the eastern coast and into the tablelands and western slopes of NSW. There are many variants of this plant in leaf shape and flower colour. The plant labelled and sold as Prostanthera ovalifolia Rosea is the one I grow and prefer. It has lovely mauve flowers (see photo) that cover the plant for a far too short a period in Spring.