Leionema carruthersii

Distribution Map
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: Open forest on the far south coast of New South Wales between Batemans Bay and Bega.
Common Name: No generally accepted common name
Derivation of Name: Leionema...From Greek leios, smooth to the touch, and nema, a thread, referring to the 'hilar strand', which is a small piece of tissue joining the hilum (scar on the side of the seed) to the ovule.
carruthersii.... Derivation uncertain but possibly after Sir Joseph Carruthers (1857-1932), former Premier of New South Wales.
Conservation Status: Not currently listed as threatened under the EPBC Act*. Regarded as rare in the wild and classified as 3RC- under the ROTAP * system.

General Description:

The genus Leionema comprises 22 species which were previously part of the genus Phebalium. All are endemic to Australia and occur in the eastern half of the continent. Most are small shrubs with very aromatic foliage and produce clusters of small, star-like flowers in the cream to bright yellow range.

Leionema carruthersii
Leionema carruthersii
Photo: Brian Walters

Leionema carruthersii is a small shrub up to about 1 metre in height. It has oval to lanceolate leaves up to 100 mm long and 5 mm wide with recurved or revolute margins. Together with a few other members of the genus, L.carruthersii is unusual in that it has flowers with prominent stamens which project well beyond the length of the floral tube. In most other species the stamens are shorter and more spreading to give a starry appearance to the flowers. The small flower cluster consist of up to 10 flowers on short stems from the leaf axils. They are yellowish-green with red stamens and surrounded by green bracts. Flowering occurs mainly in spring but flowers may be present at other times.

Because of its rarity, Leionema carruthersii is rarely seen in cultivation but it would make an interesting small shrub for sunny, well drained positions.

In common with most members of the Rutaceae, propagation from seed is difficult but cuttings usually strike readily.


* EPBC Act = Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  ROTAP = Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (Briggs and Leigh, 1988)
  For further information refer the Australian Plants at Risk page


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