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Shrub or tree to 15 m. Branchlets slender, somewhat pubescent, distinctive semicircular leaf scars present and these may have a raised central boss (the remains of fallen inflorescences). Leaf buds resinous. Leaves evergreen, scattered through the crown, simple, (3.5–)5–10(–12) × 1–3(–5) cm, elliptic to oblong or obovate, leathery and glabrous, primary and secondary venation prominent on both surfaces, 6–10 secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins sharply serrated and with black or brown hair-points, apex acute; petiole (0.2–)0.3–1.8 cm long, straight and slender, slightly swollen at the base. Inflorescences either amongst or below the leaves; racemes 1.5–7 cm long, bearing 5–10 flowers. Flowers pink or white and fragrant, hermaphrodite, 5-merous and to 0.8 cm long; petals split into three irregular lobes that are subsequently split into three or four tapering sections, stamens 15–25. Fruit a globose or ellipsoid drupe, 0.7–1 × 0.5–0.9 cm, blue-grey; endocarp sculptured. Flowering November to December, fruiting January to May (Australia). Coode 1984. Distribution AUSTRALIA: New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania (King Is.), Victoria. Habitat Open eucalypt forest, temperate rain forest and riverine forest between 0 and 850 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 8b–9a. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration NT320.
Potentially a respectable tree, Elaeocarpus reticulatus is more likely to be shrubby in marginal areas, as it is in Cornwall (Hudson 2004). In Australia it is a popular garden tree and widely planted (Australian National Botanic Gardens 2003a), valued for its masses of white flowers (pink in selected clones). These have the form of a dainty, fringed bell, and give it its alternative English name of Fairy Petticoats. The abundant blue fruits that follow can remain on the tree for up to six months (Ellison 1999), and are a fine feature in themselves. The narrow, mid-green leaves flush pinkish and senesce red. It is cultivated in the southern United States, but has been damaged at –6 ºC at Cistus Nursery, where a pink-flowered clone is grown. Sean Hogan (pers. comm. 2007) regards it as a good container plant, as flowering and fruiting seem to be stimulated by the confinement.