Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Bursaria incana Lindl.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Lindley, J. (1848) Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia : 224. Type: Queensland?, sub-tropical New Holland, 10 Oct. 1846, T. L. Mitchell 383; lecto: CGE. Fide Cayzer et al.(1999).

Common name

Pine, Prickly; Box Thorn; Box, Native; Mock Orange; Native Box; Native Olive; Prickly Pine; Orange, Mock; Olive, Native


Occasionally grows into a small tree but usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2-5 m tall.


Leaves often produced on short shoots in the axils of leaves so that the leaves then appear to be in alternate clumps on the twigs. Leaf blades narrowly obovate, about 20-70 x 5-12 mm. Petioles quite short. Lateral veins not obvious on either side of the leaf blade. Underside of the leaf blade clothed in matted hairs. Upper surface of young leaves clothed in matted hairs which tend to disappear as the leaf matures. Margin often thickened and slightly recurved. Terminal buds and young shoots densely clothed in pale brown matted hairs.


Pedicels and calyx clothed in dense, matted, pale-coloured hairs. Petals about 4-7 mm long. Ovary densely clothed in pale matted hairs.


Fruit a flat capsule (i.e. laterally compressed) about 6-10 mm long, bilobed, apex apiculate. Seeds flat, +/- reniform, about 4 x 3 mm, up to two seeds per locule. Embryo very small, not centrally located, usually found towards the margin of the seed. Cotyledons no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons linear, about 17-25 x 2-3 mm, intramarginal vein present. First pair of true leaves with toothed margins. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade margin irregularly toothed or lobed with two or three teeth on each side. Spines (about 4-6 mm long) usually present in the leaf axils together with two or more reduced leaves in a cluster. Stem clothed in fine prostrate hairs. Seed germination time 28 to 40 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia. Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to south-eastern Queensland. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 950 m. Usually grows in open forest but occasionally found in monsoon forest and vine thickets.

Bursaria incana Lindl. var. incana, Nuytsia 2(4): 190(1975). Bursaria spinosa var. incana (Lindl.) F.Muell. ex Klatt, Linnaea 28 : 568(1857). Bursaria incana var. septentrionalis E.M.Benn., Nuytsia 2(4): 190(1975), Type: Queensland,East slopes of Spider Summit near Mareeba (Maruba), 20 April 1961, D.W. Goodall, holo: BRI 041128.
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