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Olearia avicenniifolia (Raoul) Hook. f.

Modern name

Olearia avicenniifolia (Raoul) Hook.f.


Shawia avicenniifolia Raoul

An evergreen shrub or small tree varying from 8 to 20 ft in height in the wild; young shoots ribbed and clothed with a close, white, scurf-like down. Leaves alternate, oval-lanceolate, tapered towards both ends, pointed or bluntish at the apex, entire, 2 to 4 in. long, 78 to 134 in. wide, greyish green and glabrous above, the undersurface furnished with a close, thin, white or yellowish white felt; stalk 14 to 34 in. long, grooved and downy like the young shoots. Flower-heads produced in erect, rounded corymbs from the terminal leaf-axils in August and September, each corymb 2 to 3 in. wide and borne on a slender stalk 2 to 3 in. long, grooved and downy. Each flower-head is 14 in. long, cylindrical, white, the outer bracts erect; there are usually two or three florets in each head, one or two (or sometimes none) of which are ray-florets. Salmon, New Zealand Flowers and Plants in Colour, tt. 109-10.

Native of New Zealand in the South Island, and Stewart Island, up to 3,000 ft altitude. It is one of the hardiest of the olearias, surviving all but the severest winters near London, provided it is given a sheltered position. At Kew it has lived for many years in the outside recesses of the wall of the Temperate House. In the milder parts it has attained a height of 15 ft.

cv. ‘White Confusion’. – a form differing but slightly from the type, with large, slightly wavy leaves. flowers in june.

O. ‘Talbot de malahide’ O. albida Hort., not Hook, f. – differs from O. avicenniifolia in its blunter leaves with more rounded bases and larger flower-heads with three to six ray-florets instead of none to two.

Not known in the wild, and perhaps of hybrid origin, involving O. avicenniifolia and an unknown parent. It is much confused in horticultural literature with O. albida (see below), the true O. albida being a much more tender species. This plant, hitherto nameless, is designated in memory of the late Lord Talbot de Malahide, whose interest in, and regard for, the genus is so well known.

Although damaged in some gardens in the severe winters of 1961-3, this olearia is one of the hardiest, and will withstand full exposure to Atlantic winds.

O. albida Hook. f. – A shrub or tree to 15 ft high, resembling O. avicenniifolia, but with undulate leaves, shorter flower-stalks, and flower-heads with one to five ray-florets. Salmon, New Zealand Flowers and Plants in Colour, t. 126.

Confined to the North Island of New Zealand, in coastal forests. Not known to be in cultivation in the British Isles except at Tresco Abbey in the Isles of Scilly.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

O. albida Hook. f. – In the typical state of this species, as defined by Allan in Flora of New Zealand, the leaves are 3 to 4 in. long, slightly undulate, and there are three to ten florets in each head. In var. angulata (Kirk) Allan (O. angulata Kirk) the leaves are shorter, 134 to 3 in. long, more leathery and undulate; flower-heads usually with five or fewer florets. This is reported to be hardier than the typical state.



Other species in the genus