Willow Myrtle is November's plant of the month.
Agonis, from the Greek 'agon', a cluster, referring to the arrangement of the fruits.
Flexuosa, from the Latin 'flexuosus', bending or curving in a zig-zag manner.
Typically, Agonis flexuosa is a tree with graceful, weeping foliage which reaches 15 metres or more in good conditions. It is often smaller in cultivation and would take many years to reach its ultimate height. It has fibrous bark and lance-shaped leaves. The white, 5-petalled flowers are massed along the branches in spring and summer. It flowers between August and December.
It is best known and most readily identified by the powerful odour of peppermint emitted when the leaves are crushed or torn, though some plants in fact emit an overpowering smell of eucalyptus.
Willow myrtle is popular in cultivation and, despite its western origin, is hardy in sub-tropical and temperate areas of the eastern states of Australia. It grows particularly well in sandy soils along the coast. It may be cut back by heavy frosts but established plants generally recover satisfactorily. This is a very useful plant for street planting as it responds well to being trimmed under power lines.
Habitat and Distribution
Agonis is a small genus of 4 species all of which occur naturally only in south Western Australia. Agonis flexuosa is by far the most widely grown as it is adaptable to a range of climates and soils. Numerous cultivars of this species have been released for general cultivation. Only one, Agonis flexuosa, grows to tree size; the others generally grow as tall shrubs.
Agonis flexuosa occurs in a subcoastal strip from just north of Perth, southward through the Swan Coastal Plain, then along the coast to outlying records east of Bremer Bay.
The habitat includes limestone heath, stable dunes, and sandy soils; usually inland from the coastline, and it also grows as an under-story plant in Tuart forest.
The Noongar people of south-western Australia, used the plant leaves as an antiseptic; sapling trunks were used as spear shafts and digging sticks.
Where to see the Willow Myrtle in Centennial Parklands
Dickens Drive at Willow Pond.
This information was curated by a team of passionate Centennial Parklands volunteers. Find out more about our volunteer programs here.