Waterhousea floribunda (Weeping Lilly Pilly)

June 6, 2008

Featured tree

Lustrous, dark green foliage, with pendulous branchlets against the dark bark make for an attractive tree. The crown is typically quite dense.

Although tolerant of extended dry periods, it prefers moist soils to develop best specimens.
Good tree for urban landscapes. Useful species for screens and informal hedges.
Flower and fruit are bird and insect attracting.

Widespread in riverine rainforest, often lining stream banks; north from the Hunter Valley extending into Queensland.

Medium evergreen tree with a narrow domed form while young developing to a broad domed crown. A mature height of about 10-20 m x 7-15 m wide. Weeping Lilly Pilly can grow to 30 metres in height in its natural habitat although it is usually much smaller in cultivation.

Leaves lance-shaped to elliptical which taper to a point. Lustrous, dark green, lighter green below, undulate margins. Develops a relatively dense canopy at maturity. White flowers on many-flowered panicles, appear from late spring to mid summer and are followed by round fruits 15 -20 mm in diameter and green in colour, maturing with a pink to red tinge. Finely fissured, dark grey bark.

Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, prefers acid soils. Once established it will tolerate extended dry conditions but is at its best when assured water is available. Will tolerate waterlogged conditions. Position away from windy sites. It will grow well in light shade. Moderate to low tolerance for root disturbance/construction impacts. Transplants easily. Prone to scale infestations.

Based on 75% of mature size (in urban landscapes) tree would require approximately 113m2 area or 67m3 root volume (crown projection method).

A widely cultivated tree, well suited to urban landscapes. Good street and open space tree. Prune to central trunk otherwise little pruning is required. Good screen plant but will require pruning/hedging at least twice a year. Fruit litter is not as problematic as other Lilly Pillys.
Variety known as ‘Sweeper’ has more pronounced weeping habit with lush green new growth with more pronounced undulation to margin.

Click to download the fact sheet pdf

Featured Tree© Tree Logic Pty Ltd 2008
Australian Society for Growing Australian Plants (2008) as seen here
National Herbarium of New South Wales (2008) as seen here


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8 Responses to “Waterhousea floribunda (Weeping Lilly Pilly)”

  1. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Hi Kate,

    In response to the tip or apical shoot being broken, the side branches directly beneath the broken tip will be stimulated to grow toward vertical and take over as the lead or apical shoot. In addition, and again in response to the break, shoots may also develop along the main stem beneath the point of the break, also growing toward vertical in an attempt to form the lead shoot. To avoid the main stem branching at this point and regain the desired single stem form, select the most vigorous of the aforementioned shoots to take over as the apical shoot and: prune out the other shoots that spontaneously developed along the main stem, and tip prune the other competing side branches. That the tip broke so early in the development of the specimen should not compromise the eventual structure or form of the tree.

    The form of hedge you describe is referred to as a pleached hedge, very formal and a style I consider quite elegant. Enjoy your pleaching endeavor; it should look beautiful in years to come.

  2. Kate Says:

    Hi James,
    I wonder if you are able to help me with my query please. I have planted 10 weeping lily pilly’s along our fence line to be used as a screen. Total distance is 15m. I planted them as quite immature plants with a height of around 60cm. Since planting them last spring they have almost doubled in size and are looking very healthy. Eventually I would like to hedge the tops and have about 1m of the trunk bare so that we can see the fence line. I have a concern about one of my plants however, It had broken from the main upright stem soon after we planted it. What will come of it? It has lots of new foliage. Will it grow upright like the remaining 9 trees or will it be stunted? Appreciate your help.

    would like to hedge them at about 1m and have the trunk free of foliage below 1m.
    grow them and trim the trunk Since planting them last spring they have flourished and continue to do so.

  3. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Thanks for your query Sue,

    Without understanding the specific site conditions I cannot say if the trees are appropriate for the site, as the comment ‘grow too big’ is out of context; the concern / anticipated consequence over how big the trees may grow is not explained?

    However, in specific relation to your query, Waterhousea floribunda can be effectively pruned /hedged, and this management option may be an appropriate strategy to managing their ultimate dimensions as opposed to their removal. The close spacing of the trees will limit the growth of individual specimens as the trees will be competing for finite resources of water and nutrients obtained from the soil. The trees will also compete for light, which can result in a tendency to grow in height disproportionately to spread; the latter however is not expected to be an issue if the trees are being hedged.

    With any hedged landscape feature it is best to commence pruning/ training early in the development stage rather than reduce large specimens. Also understand that with any hedging of plants, it takes an ongoing commitment to regular maintenance.



  4. James Martens-Mullaly Says:

    Thanks for your query Cathy,

    Healthy Weeping Lilly Pilly trees can be expected to develop a dense canopy. The matter of the level of expected shading to the front of your house that may in time be caused by the newly planted trees will be influenced by several factors including orientation of the property frontage and setback of the house from the frontage. Factors affecting plant performance and therefore how fast, how tall and how dense the trees grow will also influence the level of shading.

    Canopy trees used appropriately in urban settings can improve human comfort levels through their ability to moderate climatic conditions. The relative benefit depends on the size and configuration of trees and other landscape elements around the built structures.

    On each of the matters above it is not possible without visiting the site to make an informed judgment. I expect Brisbane City Council made a considered decision on tree selection for your property frontage, though you should address your concerns with the Council.



  5. Cathy Says:

    Brisbane City Council have just planted 4 of these trees on our footpath. Block frontage is approx 35m. By the look at the size they grow these will cut out all sun to the front of the house.

  6. sue ross Says:

    I had a tenant live in my house who planted 15 of these trees across back fence for screening ( block is 27 m wide ). They are growing very slowly still below frnce height after nealry 2 years. I have been advised to remove them all because they will grow too big. Will the fact they are so close together stunt their growth enough to keep them smaller?Can we trim them down to keep them stunted as well? Or will I need to remove them?
    Thanks for advice

  7. Stephen Frank
    Stephen Frank Says:

    Thanks Averil.
    I think that a Weeping Lilly Pilly would make a good feature tree in the front of your house. It would tie in with the sub-tropical landscape character. It is certainly more of a foliage feature than having outstanding flower display.

  8. Averil Says:

    Would waterhousea floribunda be a suitable planting for a feature tree at the front of a house on Bribie Island? Water is not a problem.

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