Also known as Queensland Holly or Veiny Graptophyllum, this dainty small shrub to 1.5 m is found naturally in the understorey of our local rainforests.
It has soft, glossy diamond-shaped opposite leaves with toothed margins. The small white tubular flowers arise from the leaf axils and appear throughout the year. They are a magnet for a wide range of beneficial insects, including the Carpenter Bee (pictured), Blue-banded Bee and stingless bees. The flowers are followed by brown capsules that ‘explode’ when ripe. There are occasional small spines in the leaf axils, but this is by no means prickly plant.
This is a hardy, attractive shrub that will tolerate most soils. It grows best in semi shade or shade, but will tolerate full sun. It is a wonderful foliage plant for any sized garden and can be grown successfully in containers.
Specimens can be seen at the Samford EcoCorridor (https://www.facebook.com/EcoCorridor).
Article and photo © Peter Storer
On a neighbour’s place, before it was sold, there was a stand of holly near a waterhole that was a haven for many reptiles including an enormous goanna. We used to crawl in to see peering eyes. It has been “civilised” by the removal of old logs, rocks and ground cover. Such a shame. The hollies are the largest and most entangled I have ever seen.
Are you sure that it was this species of ‘holly’? Common names can be misleading, because this plant isn’t closely related to European holly (Ilex aquifolium). Another more widespread species often referred to as ‘native holly’ is Alchornea ilicifolium, which is found in our dry rainforests, as well as in gallery rainforest we’ve revegetated at the Samford EcoCorridor.