Olearia macrodonta Baker
Synonyms: O. dentata Hook, f., not Moench
An evergreen shrub up to 20 ft high, or even a small tree in the wild, with bark peeling in long strips; young shoots angled, downy. Leaves alternate, firm and leathery, ovate to narrowly oval, rounded or tapering at the base, pointed at the apex, 2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, the margins wavy and furnished with coarse sharp teeth, the hollows between them rounded; upper surface dark glossy green, downy only when quite young, lower surface covered with a close, silvery-white felt; leaf-stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Flower-heads produced in one or more branched clusters 3 to 6 in. across, at the termination of the previous season’s growth, each cluster on a silvery-white, downy stalk 3 to 6 in. long. The flower-head is 1⁄2 in. across, with ten or more white ray-florets and a few reddish disk-florets. Bot. Mag., t. 7065.
Native of New Zealand up to 4,000 ft. It is one of the finest olearias, almost hardy if sheltered from cold winds. The leaves are musk-scented when crushed.
cv. ‘Major’. – A form with larger leaves and flower-heads. There is an example at Rowallane, Co. Down, 22 ft high and 48 ft across.
cv. ‘Minor’. – A dwarf, compact form, smaller in all its parts.
The status of O. macrodonta is uncertain; it is perhaps of hybrid origin, from O. arborescens crossed with O. ilicifolia. Forms which are said to be hybrids between O. arborescens and O. macrodonta are also in cultivation, as O. ‘Rowallane Hybrids’; they have the toothed leaves of the latter and the hanging flower-heads of the former, but are perhaps no more than variants of the very variable O. arborescens.
O. ‘Rossii’. – A strong-growing shrub of medium size; leaves up to 4 in. long and 11⁄2 in. wide, tapered at the base, often obliquely, more sharply tapered at the apex, at first pilose above, becoming glossy green, persistently yellowish-white tomentose beneath, coarsely toothed at the margins.
A hybrid which arose spontaneously in the garden of Sir John Ross of Bladensburg at Rostrevor, Co. Down. It is supposed to be O. macrodonta crossed with O. argophylla, but this parentage is in need of confirmation.
O. macrodonta × O. moschata. – A plant which appears to be this hybrid has been offered in recent years by Hillier and Sons as ‘O. rani’. It is neither the true O. rani (A. Cunn.) Druce nor the species properly known as O. cheesemanii, which has also been grown as ‘O. rani’. Leaves elliptic, tapered at the base and apex, up to 2 in. long and 1 in. wide, green above, closely white-tomentose beneath, coarsely but rather bluntly toothed and slightly revolute at the margins; stalk up to 1⁄2 in. long.