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Anopterus macleayanus

Anopterus macleayanus is found in sub-tropical areas of south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern NSW. It is a shrub or tree to about 6 to 8 metres with a spreading open crown to about 4 metres. In cultivation, it does not grow as tall as in its natural habitat of higher elevations where it is constantly moist. 

It has large, glossy, dark green toothed leaves 30cm long and 5cm wide. 

I have had two Anopterus macleayanus plants growing for many years in my northern suburbs Sydney garden. They receive morning sun and afternoon shade. Ideally, they need constant soil moisture to grow at their best, however my plants are growing quite well, under a large 80 year old English oak, in a raised bed which has a good covering of leave litter. They only need supplementary watering in extended dry periods in summer. Attractive fragrant white terminal flowers are produced from mid spring to early summer.

Propagation is easy from seed (I have even seen them for sale on EBay). I occasionally prune branches back by about a 1/3 to maintain it as an informal hedge.  

These plants make a great feature plant in the right position OR an attractive pot plant suitable for indoor decoration.  

Derivation of Name: The species was first formally described in 1859 by botanist Ferdinand von Mueller.

Ferdinand von Mueller was born at Rostock, Germany in 1825. He studied pharmacy and took his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Kiel in 1847. Dr Mueller received Honours from many of the ruling Royal Houses of Europe – he was made a Baron by the King of Wurtemberg in 1871, and knighted by Queen Victoria.

He came to Australia in 1848 for health reasons. He was the Victorian Government Botanist from 1853, and for a time Director of the Botanic Gardens.  His botanical publications are very extensive and include Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae, published between 1858 and 1882. An indefatigable worker, Mueller's correspondence regularly reached 3000 letters a year and he published over 800 papers and major works on Australian botany.

He was largely responsible for the international recognition given to Australian scientific endeavors. Much of his work has never been superceeded and is a measure of his lasting contribution to botany. 

He had little private life – his time, energy and finance being devoted to his work. He never married, though was engaged to Euphemia Henderson in 1863 and Rebecca Nordt in 1865. Survived by a sister, he died on 10 October 1896 in South Yarra, Melbourne.

Jeff Howes  

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