Nature Profiles

Flora of the Adelaide Hills & Mount Lofty Ranges - Trees & Shrubs



Acacias add a welcome splash of yellow colour to the Adelaide Hills landscape in winter and early spring.  Along with eucalypts, Acacias are a mega-diverse genus in Australia (and unlike eucalypts, they are also widespread in warm areas of Africa and the Americas as well).  The Mount Lofty Ranges have approximately 35 native Acacia species, along with several introduced species from other areas of Australia.

Acacia pycnantha (Golden Wattle)

Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

This Acacia is one of the most well-known in Australia; it features on the national crest, and is the source of Australia's green and gold sporting colours.

The plant itself is short-lived, growing rapidly from a seedling to a small tree, flowering profusely each winter, and then dying after as little as 10 years.  It is easy to identify in the Adelaide Hills, even when not in flower, by its broad deep green leaves and the jet black, burnt-looking bark on the trunk. 

Golden Wattle occurs in all Australian states except the Northern Territory, although its presence in Western Australia is only as a naturalised weed.

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills



Acacia myrtifolia (Myrtle Wattle)


One of Australia's most widespread wattles, Myrtle Wattle is common in the Adelaide Hills, and easily recognised by its slightly mucronate myrtle-shaped leaved and creamy-white flowerheads.  The stems are also a characteristic reddish colour, which aids identification when the plant is not in flower.

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills



Acacia continua (Thorn Wattle)

Para Wirra RP, Adelaide Hills

The aptly-named Thorn Wattle is an Acacia of warm, dry habitats, and is common from the Mount Lofty Ranges northwards, where it grows as an easily-identified small spindly leafless shrub in sandy soils. The species is also found in similar habitats in western NSW. 

Thorn Wattle is not found south of Adelaide or in the dry north-western mallee areas of Victoria.



Acacia acinacea (Gold-dust Wattle)

Hale CP, Adelaide Hills

This small wattle is widespread in south-eastern Australia, and is a spectacular-looking plant when covered in yellow flowerheads in spring.  Although the first photo doesn't show it, the flowers can completely cover the shrub, obscuring the distinctive elliptical mucronate (having a short sharp tip) phyllodes - the second photo gives some impression of how stunning the plant can look.

Para Wirra RP, Adelaide Hills



Acacia gunnii (Ploughshare Wattle)

Cleland CP, Adelaide Hills

A diminutive wattle, this plant is extremely prickly.  The phyllodes are distinctively shaped, resembling shark's teeth, which makes identification easy - other prickly South Australian Acacias have straight, pointed phyllodes. 

This species is common in high-rainfall temperate areas of Australia.



Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood)

Mt George CP, Adelaide Hills

The Mount Lofty Ranges mark the western limit of this very common eastern Australian species' natural distribution.  Most of South Australia is too dry for this species to grow, and the Mount Lofty Ranges population is disjunct, with the next nearest population found in the south-eastern corner of the state. 

Distinctive features of this species are the pale flower heads and multi-nerved phyllodes.

Thanks to Tristan Morrow for the identification.




Eucalyptus cosmophylla (Cup Gum)

Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

This small eucalypt is endemic to South Australia, being found on Kangaroo Island and in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges. 

Distinctive features of this species include the large sessile buds (seen on the right of this photo), thick, leathery bluish-green leaves, and its cup-shaped fruits, which appear later in the summer.

Cleland CP, Adelaide Hills



Eucalyptus fasciculosa (Pink Gum)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

This scruffy-looking gum is common in the Mount Lofty Ranges, where it can be the dominant eucalypt on rocky hill tops. 

Pink Gum is almost entirely a South Australian species; its range just extends into far south-western Victoria.



Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon (South Australian Blue Gum)


Scott CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

This is the commmonest of the four Blue Gum subspecies.  Its distribution is fragmented, with the main area centred on the southern Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island, but with disjunct populations in the Flinders Ranges and western Victoria.  Pink and white-flowering forms are found, even at the same sites. 

Thanks to Helen Vonow for identifying the second photograph for me.




Other shrub & trees

Allocasuarina muelleriana ssp. muelleriana (Slaty Sheoak)

Cleland CP, Adelaide Hills

Allocasuarinas are dioecious plants (separate male and female plants) - you can tell the sexes apart by the different appearance of the flower stalks.

Old fruiting cones, Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hills



Allocasuarina striata (Small Bulloak)

Cleland CP, Adelaide Hills

A species endemic to the Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island, this species is widespread in the southern areas of the Hills, all the way down the Fleurieu Peninsula.



Callitris rhomboidea (Oyster Bay Pine)

Hale CP, Adelaide Hills

Not true pines, Callitris species are shrubby scaly-leaved plants (although C.columellaris is a tall tree) common in drier habitats in South Australia. 

C.rhomboidea is a very widespread eastern Australian species, and in South Australia is largely restricted to the Mount Lofty Ranges and Kangaroo Island. Its clustered, horned cones make it easily identifiable.



Banksia marginata (Silver Banksia)

Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Silver Banksia is a small tree, widespread in south-eastern Australia, mostly where winters are cool and moist.  Its attractive flowers can appear throughout most of the year, but I found them to be most common in summer and autumn in the Adelaide Hills.  They are an important nectar source for honeyeaters and other birds. 

Most of the Banksias are small shrubs endemic to Western Australia, although the east coast of Australia has its own selection of species as well.  In South Australia, the only other species found is the Desert Banskia, B.ornata.



Amyema miquelii (Box Mistletoe)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Four Amyema mistletoes are found in the Adelaide Hills, and this is the most common, and is frequently seen festooning eucalypts.  It can be distinguished from the other common eucalypt mistletoe, A.pendulum, by its larger, more orange (rather than red) flowers and broader leaves. 

Box Mistletoe can be encountered in all mainland states in Australia, in arid as well as temperate regions.




Leptospermum lanigerum (Silky Tea-tree)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The tallest of the Mount Lofty Ranges Leptospermums, this species can be recognised, not only by its tall (up to 5m) stature but also its very hairy seed capsules and leaves covered in silky hairs. 

The most similar species is L.myrsinoides (below), but that species is a much smaller shrub with largely glabrous leaves which have inrolled margins and a recurved tip. 

Silky Tea-tree is less abundant than L.myrsinoides in the Adelaide region, but still widespread.  You can see a photo of a flowering plant here.



Leptospermum myrsinoides (Heath Tea-tree)

Cleland CP, Adelaide Hills

The tea-trees are one of the more famous groups of Australian native plants.  South Australia has few species compared to the wetter eastern states, with only four found in the Mount Lofty Ranges in addition to the possibly introduced L.laevigatum

Thanks to Helen Vonow for confirming the identification.



Epacris impressa (Common Heath)

Mt George CP, Adelaide Hills

During August, this spiny shrub lights up the bush.  As its vernacular name implies, it is a common plant in south-eastern Australia, and is the floral emblem of Victoria.  White-flowering forms occur, but I didn't see any in the Adelaide Hills.



Astroloma conostephiodes (Flame Heath)

Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Along with Common Heath, this shrub adds a splash of bright colour to otherwise uniformly lush green hillsides in late winter.  It is easily distinguished from the former species by its smaller, straight leaves and the distinctive flowers which have have a very small opening, rather than the flared opening of E.impressa

A similar species, A.humifusum, is also common in the Hills, but has a prostrate habit and fuzzy-edged leaves.



Leucopogon virgatus (Common Bearded-heath)

Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

This shrub flowers in early spring and is widespread in the Adelaide Hills, and can be found throughout temperate south-eastern Australia.



Boronia coerulescens (Blue Boronia)

Cox Scrub CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

Boronias are small shrubs with distinctively four-petalled flowers.  The genus is not especially well-represented in South Australia, which helps greatly with identification. 

This species is the most widespread, and is a small shrub with variably blue, purple or white flowers, and is more common on the Fleurieu Peninsula than in the Hills. 

Nationally, it can be found from Western Australia, all the way east to NSW.



Brachyloma ericoides ssp. ericoides (Brush Heath)

Cox Scrub CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

This small shrub has distinctive pink tubular flowers, and is found in scattered locations in the Adelaide Hills, and more frequently in areas around and north of Victor Harbor (as here, at Cox Scrub CP). 

Nationally this species is restricted to SA and Victoria, with the Adelaide Hills representing the north-western limit of the species' range.  

The nationally more widespread B.ciliatum is also found (much more rarely) at the southern end of the Mount Lofty Ranges, but it has white flowers and smaller leaves, and so cannot be confused with B.ericoides, at least when flowering!



Adenanthos terminalis (Gland Flower)


The only mainland South Australian representative of an otherwise exclusively Western Australian genus (apart from A.macropodianus, which is endemic to Kangaroo Island), this unusual looking plant is found in sandy soils in the southern MLR and Fleurieu Peninsula.  Its range extends south-east to Victoria.

Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula



Zieria veronicea (Pink Zieria)

Cox Scrub CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

The four-petalled flowers betray this beautiful little shrub's membership of the Rutaceae family, which includes the well-known Boronias and Correas.



Anthocercis angustifolia

Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

This twining shrub is a South Australian endemic species, confined to scattered locations in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Flinders Ranges. 

Thanks to John Fleming for correcting my initial ID!



Spyridium parvifolium (Dusty Miller)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The distinctive 'dusty'-looking leaves help to identify this common shrub. 

There are 9 Spyridiums in this region, mainly distinguishable by leaf shape.  This species is the most widespread, being found along the spine of the Mount Lofty Ranges, and it can also be found in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.



Spyridium vexilliferum (Winged Spyridium)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The long, narrow leaves and prominent 'winged' flowerheads help identify this common Adelaide Hills shrub.  It is more common in cooler, higher-rainfall areas of the hills, as hinted at by its national range, which extends through Victoria to Tasmania.



Cryptandra tomentosa (Prickly Cryptandra)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The little white flowers with pointed petals and tiny incurved leaves help to identify this small spring-flowering shrub.



Philotheca angustifolia (Narrow-leaved Waxflower)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Formerly included in the now much-reduced genus Eriostemon, this distinctive shrub is fairly common in the Adelaide Hills.  All but two of the former Eriostemons are now included in Philotheca.



Calytrix tetragona (Common Fringe-myrtle)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The profuse flower heads and persistent awns make this an unmistakeable plant when in flower.  Calytrix is a large genus, but this is by far the most widespread species, being found in every state except NT.  Within the Adelaide Hills it can only be confused with C.glaberrima, which lacks the conspicuous awns of C.tetragona.



Dillwynia sericea (Showy Parrot-Pea)

Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

Dillwynias look very similar to other pea-flowered shrubs like the Pultenaeas and Eutaxias.  Each genus is separated according to the relative proportions of the flower petals.  Dillwynia flowers are noticeably broader than they are high. 

D.sericea is a species of the southern Mt Lofty Ranges and Fleurieu Peninsula, but can also be found in much of eastern Australia.



Pultenaea acerosa (Bristly Bush-pea)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The Pultenaeas are the largest family of pea-flowered shrubs in Australia with about 120 species.  In the Mount Lofty Ranges there are about 20 species present.  Some are highly distinctive while others can be more tricky to identify without close examination. 

P.acerosa falls into the first category - the combination of prickly foliage and bright lemon-yellow flowers are unique in the region.  The species is also found in Victoria.



Pultenaea largiflorens (Twiggy Bush-pea)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

One of the more nondescript, difficult-to-identify Pultenaeas, this species is characterised by a combination of yellow-orange flowers (which aren't especially large for the genus, despite the Latin name!) and rather small obovate pointed leaves with hairy margins. 

It is a species of southeastern Australia, found only in SA, NSW and Victoria. 

Thanks to John Fleming for identifying the second photo for me!

Scott CP, Fleurieu Peninsula



Pultenaea daphnoides (Large-leaved Bush-pea)

Mt George CP, Adelaide Hills

The distinctively spoon-shaped leaves of this common species make it easy for a beginner to identify.  It is a beautiful plant when in flower, and the sight of this shrub covered in bright yellow flowerheads enlivens any spring walk through the Adelaide Hills. 

Nationally it is found in all wet, temperate areas of the country.



Pultenaea trinervis (Three-nerved Bush-pea)

Cox Scrub CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

Primariy a species of the Fleurieu Peninsula, and endemic to South Australia, this small shrub is easily identified by the combination of yellow flowers and very hairy fringed leaves, which, on closer inspection, do indeed have three prominent nerves. 

At first sight it is similar to the regional endemic P.involucrata, but the flowers of P.trinervis lack conspicuous bracts (involucres) and have no red colouration.



Pultenaea sp (currently unidentified)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

I'm not sure of the identity of this species, so I'd be keen to hear any ideas!



Platylobium obtusangulum (Common Flat-pea)

Mt George CP, Adelaide Hills

In early spring the bright flowers of this distinctive straggly small shrub stand out among the leaf litter in eucalypt woodland. 

There are only four Platylobium species, and this is the only one found in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  Elsewhere in Australia, it can be found Victoria and Tasmania.



Daviesia brevifolia (Leafless Bitter-pea)

Mylor CP, Adelaide Hills

The genus Daviesia is endemic to Australia, and contains around 200 species.  Fortunately for the novice, many of these are not present in the Mounty Lofty Ranges! 

D.brevifolia is very distinctive and its leafless stems and pinkish-red flowers cannot be mistaken for any other regional plant when in flower. 

Nationally, the species is only found in South Australia and Victoria.



Daviesia ulicifolia ssp. incarnata (Gorse Bitter-pea)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

As the name suggests, the gorse-like foliage is a good identification feature for this species.  The flowers are orange-red with a darker centre and veining, like other Daviesias

Nationally, this is a widespread and very variable plant, found in all states except the Northern Territory. Six subspecies have been described, with incarnata endemic to the Mount Lofty Lofty Ranges, and being distinct by its reddish flowers.



Daviesia leptophylla

Cleland CP, Adelaide Hills

More widespread in the Adelaide Hills than D.brevifolia, this widespread shrub of the eastern states can be recognised by its long, flat leaves which almost resemble those of some Acacias.  The pea flowers are bicoloured, like other Daviesia species.



Hardenbergia violacea (Native Lilac)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

This common twining shrub flowers in early spring, and brings a welcome splash of colour to the forest understory. 

The plant is commonly cultivated in Australia, and is native to all states except WA and the Northern Territory.



Goodenia ovata (Hop Goodenia)

Scott CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

One of the most common members of the family in Australia, this widespread shrub is similarly common in the Adelaide Hills. 

In all, ten Goodenias occur in the Hills, and they are often rather similar shrubs or perennnial herbs.  G.ovata most closely resembles the widespread G.varia, but has thinner leaves without sticky glandular hairs.



Hibbertia sericea (Silky Guinea-flower)

Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The common name of this common species refers to the silky appearance of the leaves, one of the plant's distinguishing features.  Otherwise it rather similar to H.virgata, but with differences in flower structure (see that species' description).



Hibbertia exutiaces

Hale CP, Adelaide Hills

The prostrate, scrambling habit of this prickly little shrub is one of its most recognisable features, different to all the other Adelaide Hills Hibbertias.  Nationally, the species is restricted to South Australia and Victoria.

Hale CP, Adelaide Hills



Hibbertia virgata (Twiggy Guinea-flower)

Hale CP, Adelaide Hills

One of the common Hibbertias nationally, this species has smooth leaves, but is best distinguished the number of stamens in the flowers - each has 10-12 in this species, but all others have fewer than this.



Leionema hillebrandii (Mount Lofty Phebalium)


Also known as Phebalium hillebrandii, this medium-sized shrub is one of the few endemic species of the Adelaide Hills, and can be found readily in the higher rainfall parts of the hills, especially around Cleland CP, where this photo was taken.



Olearia sp (ciliata or pannosa)

Scott Creek CP, Adelaide Hills

I'm unable to decide which of these two species I have photographed here!  They are similar plants in terms of the flower heads, but have very different leaves - those of O.pannosa are broad and lanceolate, whereas those of O.ciliata are short, thin and fringed with hairs.  Unfortunately this photo doesn't show the leaves, so the indentity of this plant will remain a mystery!



Baeckia crassifolia (Desert Baeckea)

Hale CP, Adelaide Hills

Despite its common name, this shrub is not strictly a desert plant, and can be seen in drier areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges.  It can be recognised by its very small, thickened leaves and pale rosy-pink or white flowers. 

B.crassifolia is widely distributed in drier areas of southern Australia, from the Eyre Peninsula southeast into Victoria and the far south-west of NSW, with a disjunct population in southern Western Australia.

Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula



Conospermum patens

Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

Conospermum, like other genera in the Proteaceae, is most diverse in Western Australia, and this is one of the few South Australian species.  It can be found from the Eyre Peninsula, south-east into western Victoria. 

C.patens is a woodland species, and forms a small shrub with distinctive short leaves and pale lilac clustered flowerheads.



Cheiranthera alternifolia (Finger-flower)

Cox Scrub CP, Fleurieu Peninsula

The bright blue flowers of this shrub are conspicuous in spring, where they adorn the understory of open eucalypt woodland.  For the photographer, the vivid blue colour of these spring flowers can be difficult to capture accurately - this poor overexposed photo shows the best colour I could manage! 

Few would guess from looking at the plant that it a member of the Pittosporum family, related to trees such as the Native Apricot

It is widespread in South Australia, from the Flinders Ranges down to the far south, and is also found in Victoria.



Dodonaea viscosa ssp. spathulata (Common Hop-bush)

Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

This very variable species is extremely widespread with a pan-global distribution.  Numerous subspecies are recognised, although spathulata is the only one found in the Adelaide Hills.  In more arid areas of South Australia, ssp.angustifolia becomes dominant.



Isopogon ceratophyllus (Cone-bush)

Foliage and flower bud, Morialta CP, Adelaide Hills

Like other genera in the Proteaceae, most Isopogon species are found in Western Australia, with relatively few in other states.   I.ceratophyllus is the only species of Isopogon to occur in South Australia, and is found from the Mount Lofty Ranges south-east to western Victoria.  It is also found on the Bass Strait islands of Tasmania. 

The harsh prickly foliage gives this plant a unique appearance among Adelaide Hills plant and it cannot be easily confused with any other plants in our region.

flowering plant, Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills



Hakea carinata

Para Wirra RP, Adelaide Hills

This small Hakea is a South Australian endemic which is common in the Mount Lofty Ranges.  It is easily distinguished from the other local species by its flattened leaves and beaked fruits.



Hakea rostrata (Beaked Hakea)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The leaves on this common species are round in cross-section, unlike H.carinata.  Although both species have beaked fruits, those of H.rugosa have a beak which curls back towards the fruit rather than pointing away from it.  Beaked Hakea is also found in western Victoria.

Mt Billy CP, Fleurieu Peninsula



Grevillea lavandulacea var. lavandulacea (Lavender Grevillea)

Anstey Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

The Grevilleas are a well-known family of native plants, but as with other Proteaceae, they are not well-represented in South Australia.  This is the only native species in the Adelaide Hills, although G.rosmarinifolia is an introduced species from the eastern states.



Pimelea glauca (Smooth Riceflower)

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

All Pimeleas can be recognised by their tubular four-petalled flowers, but the small, shrubby white-flowered species can be difficult to separate without close inspection of the leaves. 

P.glauca is a common species in the Adelaide Hills, and common across the eastern states in general.  It is similar to other hairless-leaved species such as P.humilis and P.stricta, but the leaf shapes of each differ slightly in how broad or pointed they are.



Pimelea octophylla (Woolly Riceflower)


Unlike the species above, this beautiful species is utterly unmistakable, and is one of my favourite Adelaide Hills plants.  The creamy-yellow flowerheads are extraordinarily hairy, and the leaves are hairy too, although less so.

Leaves and flowers, with a stem of Boronia filifolia below, Cox Scrub CP, Fleurieu Peninsula



Prostanthera behriana (Downy Mintbush)


Prostantheras are well-known plants in native Australian gardens, although the two Mount Lofty Ranges species are not commonly cultivated.  Two of these species - Downy Mintbush and Green Mintbush (P.chlorantha) - are endemic to South Australia.  A third species - Scarlet Mintbush (P.aspalathoides) - is found on the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, and south from the Murray River into the eastern states.

Para Wirra RP, Adelaide Hills



Tetratheca pilosa (Pink-eyed Susan)

Mylor CP, Adelaide Hills

Tetratheca is a medium-sized (50-60 species) genus endemic to Australia.  Only one species is found in the Adelaide Hills and it is easy to recognise with its heath-like foliage and clusters of pendent pink four-petalled cup-shaped flowers with dark anthers.

T.pilosa is a common plant of heathy and wooded places throughout Australia's south-east, including Tasmania.

Warren CP, Adelaide Hills



Ixodia achillaeoides

Black Hill CP, Adelaide Hills

Named for the flowerheads which resemble those of the genus Achillea, this is a common species of many parts of central and southern South Australia.  I.achillaeoides is also found in Victoria, but is less common there.

Being a member of the Compositae, the white 'petals' are actually bracts, with the tiny flowers clustered in the middle of the white 'flowers'. 

You can see a photo of the foliage in the Flora of Other Areas of South Australia section of the site.