fruit, foliage

Natural populations

A species that extends far inland to arid and semi-arid areas, Rhagodia spinescens occurs in all mainland states. It occurs more frequently on loams and clay loams but is also common on heavy clays [2, 17]. The Flora of Australia notes that R. spinescens is an extremely variable species in both flower and leaf morphology. Some populations contain plants with bisexual flowers (usually male and female flowers) and some have plants strongly smelling of trimethylamine (bad fish) [42]. In Victoria, there are two morphological variants that appear distinct at their extremes but are linked by specimens of intermediate character [16], and as such are not formally recognised.  Plants with triangular or hastate, densely white-mealy leaves and plants with small, ovate to obovate, glistening grey-green leaves both occur through the range of the species in Victoria [16].

Flowering and seeds

Flowers are present most of year, mainly spring-summer [2], with fruits present mainly during the cooler months of the year [14]. Seeds germinate easily without pre-treatment within 2-5 weeks [2].

Cultivation and uses

Moderately palatable to stock but browsed readily only when other forage is scarce [2, 17].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 100-900 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 11-25 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 26-39 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 2-8 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 10-700 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, heavy clay (greater than 50% clay), light to medium clay (35-50% clay) or loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in texture: clayey
Salinity: moderate (-8 dS m-1) (?)
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen shrub less than 2 m tall
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: moderate
Root system: shallow and spreading
Shade tolerance: tolerates partial shade
Potentially undesirable attributes
Foliage: highly susceptible to browsing by animals


[2] Carr D (2000) Plants in Your Pants II: a pocket guide to the trees and shrubs of the North West Plains of NSW. Greening Australia NSW, Armidale.

[14] Stanley TD, Ross EM (1983 to 1995) Plants of South-East Queensland. Volumes 1-3, Queensland Government, Brisbane.

[16] Walsh NG, Entwisle TJ (1994 - 1999) Flora of Victoria. Volume 2 - 4, Inkata Press, Melbourne.

[17] Cunningham GM, Mulham WE, Milthorpe PL, Leigh JH (1992) Plants of western New South Wales. Inkata Press, Port Melbourne, Victoria.

[42] Flora of Australia (1982 to 2007) Volumes 2 to 47, CSIRO Publishing and the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.

Internet links

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution:

FloraBase Western Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution:

South Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution: