Tristania neriifolia is the only species in the genus Tristania, although some closely related species formerly classified within the genus have been transferred to other genera (eg Tristaniopsis laurina, Lophostemon confertus).
Water gum is a usually a large shrub to about 3 metres but may occasionally become a small tree. It has narrow lance-shaped to elliptical leaves up to 7 cm long. The leaves are pale green and have conspicuous oil glands. Yellow, star-shaped flowers occur in summer and are about 15 mm diameter, usually in groups of 3 to 6.
This species is becoming popular in cultivation. It prefers damp, but not boggy, soils in semi shade. It makes an attractive foliage plant and is spectacular in flower.
Propagation can be carried out from seed which does not require pre-treatment. Cuttings from hardened, current season’s growth are also successful.
Photo: Jill Dark