Lophostemon confertus (Queensland Brush Box)

May 27, 2009

Featured tree

Queensland Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus).
Medium sized evergreen native tree. Useful in urban sites where adaptable species is required. Fire retardant. Moderate – Long lived.  Free of pest and disease. Rarely requires formative pruning. Commonly available.



Coastal forest edges from northern New South Wales to North Queensland.


Moderate to fast growing medium sized evergreen tree typically developing a single trunk and rounded to pyramidal canopy,  In its natural environment the species can attain heights of up to 40m.  In southern Australia   mature dimension of about 10-15 m in height  x 6-12 m width can be expected.


Leaves thick, ovate, dark green and glossy. above, paler beneath,to 15cm long.  Flowers white, occurring in three’s, generally inconspicuous in southern Australia.  Fruit a woody bell shaped capsule to 1cm.  Bark smooth, sometimes lustrous, beige coloured, seasonally peeling in flakes revealing  coppery orange to brown tones.


Tolerates a wide range of soils growing best in a  soil pH of  between 4-6.  Moderately tolerant of drought, frosts, aerial slat spray and air pollution.

Root space:

Based on 75% of mature size tree would require approximately 254m2 area or 152m3 root volume (crown projection method).


Commonly available.

Uses & management:

Moderate to long lived species.  Requires irrigation to establish.  Transplants easily.  Rarely requires formative pruning to develop good branch structure.   Responds well to pruning.  Fire retardant.  Generally free of any serious pests or diseases.  Flowers attract bees.  Produces a woody fruit capsule that can create trip hazard on hard surfaces.  Leaf litter slow to break down.  Good street tree or modest sized specimen tree for parks.

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21 Responses to “Lophostemon confertus (Queensland Brush Box)”

  1. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Brush Box should grow in the area. The soil type will not be problematic, though you may want to protect a young newly planted specimen from repeated severe winter frosts if planted in an exposed location.


  2. Nicholas Bell Says:

    I love the shape and foliage/December flowers of Brush Box, and am wondering if one would do well in the cooler areas of Victoria – Macedon ranges district? The soil is heavy clay, and if the region is suitable for a brush box what could I do to maximise its chances?

  3. Sharon Hertel Says:

    Just putting in my two cents’ worth.. I have 4 of these trees on my council verge in Perth (we have a corner block). The amount of seed pod litter is troublesome as the public path curves under all trees – the pods get stuck in the wheels of prams and wheelchairs, and they are uncomfortable to walk on bare-footed, even on grass.

    I am trying to sweep from the public path and perhaps use as mulch but I personally think these trees are not a good choice for street verges, or as a shady backyard tree for kids – the shade is great, but it’s ouchy walking under it. We removed another (a 5th) from inside out block due to rebuilding, it was a shame in some ways because they have an elegant shape and great for shade.

  4. Gary Zenaty Says:

    Thank you for your information.

  5. David Balsamo Says:

    Thanks Gary for the post.

    Our references would suggest that there is no difference. The species has a fairly wide natural distribution along the east coast of Australia from central NSW to Cairns, from the costal lowlands to the tablelands. Plant it above the high water mark and you should have no problems.


    David Balsamo

  6. Gary Zenaty Says:

    Dear Sir,
    Is there a differance between a queenland box tree and a queensland box brush tree,also can i plant this type of tree near a breakish water river?
    Thank you

  7. James MArtens-Mullaly Says:

    Thanks for your query Marg,

    Anecdotally, I have noticed with Lophostemon confertus, a slight increase in the amount of leaf drop around the time of new folige growth and flowering, though not of the volume you describe.

    If the tree appears healthy in all other respects, that is the leaf loss was not accompanied by branch dieback and new seasons foliage is of normal size, colour and density, then in the absence of any obvious factors that may induce increased leaf drop, I can provide no further advice.

    You may want to monitor the season’s foliage for signs of premature leaf loss. Dieback or leaf drop of this foliage would indicate a health issue.


  8. Charles Colgan Says:

    To: Marg
    Have a look at my earlier post on 7 April 2010. I am on the far North Coast of NSW in the Subtropical Climatic Zone. Here the Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) is in its natural environment and will grow to a height of 20 to 30 metres as street trees. They are referred to in botanical publications as an intermediate species that grow on the edges of rain forest where they attain a height of 40 to 50 metres.
    The trees in my street shed leaves and fruit (that resemble nuts) almost all year round and as advised by a horticulturist friend, they are vigorous growers and are now 12 to 13 metres in height after 9 years. In your cold climate they would never attain a height of 30 metres and I understand that their use as street trees in Melbourne grow to only 10 to 15 metres. Bundaberg Regional Council in Qld only plant this species in parks or open spaces due to their rigid guidelines as far as distances that street trees can be planted from driveways, footpaths, sewer and water pipes, dwellings, kerb and guttering and street corners.

  9. marg Says:

    I have a box which is 7 years old and is about 6 metres tall. It has been growing well and has been very healthy. In the last 3 monthes it about half of all its leaves, though it has new leaves forming and is currently flowering. We don’t have possums in the area and there doesn’t appear to be any pest or disease. Is this a normal leaf drop in flowering or something more. We lived in Mt Beauty in the mountains of north east Victoria. It is very cold in the winters, but the tree has some protection against the worst of the frosts. Thanks Marg

  10. James Martens-Mullaly Says:


    The removal of the lower limbs of street trees in my experience is undertaken for pedestrian and vehicle clearance. I am not aware of any evidence that supports the proposition their removal promotes a denser canopy. A denser canopy is usually promoted by increasing the branching within the canopy, achieved through tip pruning (pinch pruning) that removes the single terminal bud of a stem and stimulate the growth of lateral buds further back on the pinched stem thereby promoting branching of the stem.



  11. James Says:

    The council has recently pruned a mature tree on my verge. The lower healthy branches were removed by pruning back to the main stems. The council aboricultultural adviser stated that this would allow the tree to form a denser canopy. Is the adviser correct? I disagree as the method used was not “pinch pruning” Will pruning the lower branches promote a denser canopy?

  12. David Balsamo Says:

    Helen it will vary but you could expect to pay between $200 and $350. It is unlikely that you will get an advanced tree that is as wide as it is tall. Always go for the quality stock. Cheap trees are cheap because they have outgrown their containers and you will be disappointed in the long term


    David Balsamo

  13. helen Yu Says:

    Hello, I was wondering how much a mature tree would cost to buy. Perhaps one that was about 3 metres wide and between 3-4 metres high?

  14. James Martens-Mullalyu Says:

    Thank you for your query Gil,

    Tree roots typically extend well beyond the tree canopy. While some root loss can be tolerated by trees root preservation is essential to maintain tree health. When considering tree protection on development sites, arborists use Tree Protection Zones (TPZ’s). TPZ are a specified area above and below ground and at a given distance from the trunk set aside for the protection of a tree’s roots and crown to provide for the viability and stability of a tree to be retained where it is potentially subject to damage by development.

    The Australian Standard AS4970-2009 Protection of Trees on Development Sites provides a formula for calculating the required TPZ (Radial TPZ = Trunk diameter measured at 1.4m above grade (DBH) x 12). The trunk diameter at 1.4 m above ground level DBH is determined from the circumference of the trunk divided by pi (?).

    As an example, if the DBH of a tree with a single trunk at 1.4m above grade was 40cm, the radial TPZ is calculated as 40cm x 12 = 480cm or 4.8m radially around the tree (9.6 diameter). However, the diversity of trunk shapes, configurations and growing environments may require that DBH be measured above or below 1.4m, and using a range of methods to suit particular situations.

    Trees are complex organisms with highly evolved sense and response system that allow the tree to adjust to changing external environment, so that although trees have a distinct trunk giving rise to branches that bear leaves and seasonally flowers and fruit at some distance from the ground, tree growth is also opportunistic influencing tree habit, form and quality. The advice provided above is generic, and I suggest you consider engaging an arborist to assist in providing advice to facilitate successful tree preservation.



  15. Gil Says:

    I have a Qld Brush Box on a vacant block of land which I am planning to build on soon. What is a good rule of thumb for the extent of roots from a Brush Box? I have heard that the roots on a Qld Brush Box typically extend as far out as the branches do – is this right?

  16. Charles Colgan Says:

    I live on the far North Coast of NSW. Brush Box Trees line both sides of my small cul-de-sac which has a road width of 5.5 metres. I have two of these trees on my nature strip. In 8 years they have grown to 10+ metres, still growing, and the amount of leaf and fruit litter they drop all year round is completely unmanageable. Apart from leaves on the lawn the litter also gets into the gutter and as the Council has only two mechanical street sweepers that are not utilised in residential areas and are reserved for business district cleaning only. My neighbours and I are currently in discussions with council to get them replaced by something else. From info gained from the internet the City of Perth is removing them as is the Nambucca Shire on the far north coast of NSW. The University of WA states “Do not plant this species as street trees”. To those of you who have these trees I wish you better luck than my neighbours and I.

  17. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Thank you for your query Mike.

    You tree may be under siege from possums. Possum damage is distinctive. Leaves are chewed, often leaving the leaf stalk and midrib, particularly on larger leaves. Half eaten leaves can be found on the ground. Claw marks on the trunk may be visible and you should be able to find possum droppings (usually 2.5cm long dark green to black pellet) on the ground beneath the tree.
    Continual grazing on a tree can deleteriously affect tree health and any associated dieback of branches can affect tree form.
    If possums are the problem and you want to effectively control them will need to install a possum guard around the trunk and ensure the possums cannot access the tree form other vantage points (adjacent trees and built structures). The latter may require clearance pruning – at least 2m is recommended between the canopy and surrounding access points.
    Hope this helps,

  18. mike blythe Says:

    My box tree is under leaf attack – 70% of leaves have been eaten by up to 40%

    can you advise what the pest/disease may be and how to treat it.

    Tree is about 6-7 mtrs tall growing in basalt plains of western melbourne

  19. Stephen Frank
    Stephen Frank Says:

    Jev, I would put Queensland Brush Box as a medium to fast grower. But this is really dependent on your local conditions, particularly soil type and rainfall. In Melbourne we could expect 300 mm to 500 mm extension growth per year dependent on water availability. So aim for between 7 10 years to get 5 m tall tree. I would also say that the one complaint I have had about this is in regard to litter drop, which may be an issue as a shade tree.

  20. Jev Says:

    Thanks for this information. This is a sturdy one. I am sure it will stand high and would give enough shade for my family to play under it. I am planning to buy a seedling for this. I am just wondering how many years would it took for it to stand 5meters if the seedling is 1meter high when i plant it?


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