Nuytsia floribunda

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Nuytsia floribunda
Christmas tree 02 gnangarra.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Santalales
Family: Loranthaceae
Genus: Nuytsia
R.Br. ex G.Don
Species: N. floribunda
Binomial name
Nuytsia floribunda
(Labill.) R.Br.

Nuytsia floribunda is a hemiparasitic plant found in Western Australia. The species is known locally as the Christmas Tree, displaying bright orange flowers during the Christmas season.


The habit of the species is a tree up to 10 m high, or as a shrub. The rough bark is grey-brown. Flowers are a vivid yellow-orange, appearing between October and January. It is a root hemiparasite, is photosynthetic and mainly obtains water and mineral nutrients from its hosts. The haustoria arising from the roots of Nuytsia attach themselves to roots of many nearby plants and draw water and therefore nutrients from them. Almost all species are susceptible to attack, haustoria have even been found attached to underground cables.[1] In natural settings Nuytsia withdraws relatively little from each individual host, but is attached to so many other plants that the benefit to this hemiparasitic tree is likely to be considerable.


A member of the Loranthaceae, a mistletoe family of Santalales, the genus Nuytsia is monotypic. The first description of Nuytsia floribunda was published by Jacques Labillardière in Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen, as a species of Loranthus, the specific epithet describing the profuse flowers he would have observed at Esperance. The botanist Robert Brown published a remark on the species in 1831, giving a new genus name without a formal description. The description was published by George Don using Brown's name Nuytsia, an epithet that commemorates the seventeenth-century Dutch explorer and colonial official Pieter Nuyts.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Nuytsia floribunda - WA Christmas Trees by enjosmith.jpg

Nuytsia floribunda is well known in Southwest Australia, where it is named the Christmas tree, the common name outside of this region is Western Australian Christmas tree. The appearance of abundant flowers in summer is a spectacular display. Although Nuytsia seeds germinate readily and seedlings are easy to grow for a year or two cultivation of the species to maturity is regarded as difficult, with little success outside of its native habitat. It appears on a variety of soil types throughout Southwest Australia, the distribution of the species extends to the east of the Esperance Plain and to the north on the Geraldton Sandplains.

Nyungar usage[edit]

The Nyungar people made use of the species during the season Kambarang, around October to early December, obtaining bark to make shields. The gum that exudes from the wound can be collected later, it is sweet and eaten raw.[2]


  1. ^ Calladine, Ainsley; Pate, John S. (2000). "Haustorial structure and functioning of the root hemiparasitic tree Nuytsia floribunda (Labill.) R.Br. and water relationships with its hosts". Annals of Botany 85 (6): 723–731. doi:10.1006/anbo.2000.1130. 
  2. ^ Various authors (1998). Ken Wallace, Janette Huston, ed. Exploring Woodlands with Nyoongars (2 ed.). Department of Conservation and Land Management. p. 41. ISBN 0-7309-6847-2. 


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