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Small tree to 10 m, with pendulous branches. Branchlets covered with dense indumentum, composed of grey T-shaped hairs. Leaves evergreen, alternate, 3.6–4 × 1.5–1.7 cm, elliptic, upper surface glabrous, lower surface covered with silver tomentum, primary veins indistinct, margins entire, apex rounded to mucronate; petiole to 0.6 cm long. Flowers solitary or in pairs, axillary or terminal. Flowers unisexual; sepals tiny, triangular, margins ciliate; petals free or partially fused, yellow, 0.6–0.8 cm long, margins slightly ciliate. Capsule elliptic, orange-brown, ~1.3 cm long, dehiscing by two to three valves. Seeds one to three, reddish brown. Flowering October to September, fruiting December to June (Australia). Cayzer et al. 2000. Distribution AUSTRALIA: Western Australia (from the Dampier Archipelago south to Kalbarri). Habitat Coastal limestone plateaus. USDA Hardiness Zone 10. Conservation status Not evaluated. Illustration Cayzer et al. 2000. Cross-reference K412. Taxonomic note Pittosporum phillyreoides is often mistaken for the more widespread P. angustifolium Lodd., which occurs across mainland Australia. However, P. angustifolium has linear to narrowly elliptic, falcate leaves that are glabrous, while those of P. phillyreoides are elliptic or wider, not falcate, and have dense indumentum on the lower surface (Cayzer et al. 2000).
The strongly pendulous branches give Pittosporum phillyreoides a very distinct appearance that makes it a useful component of landscapes where it will grow – mostly outside our area! It is frequently cultivated in southern California, and in its native Australia, being more tolerant of heat and drought than other pittosporums, even when planted in full sun (Canopy 2006), and is a useful street tree on account of its stature and shape. Sean Hogan (pers. comm. 2008) believes that a hot summer may be requisite for successful growth. It is also not very frost-tolerant so is suited only for the mildest parts of our area, and even in California is not grown much further north than the San Francisco Bay Area. It should, however, be tried in the London heat island. The small yellow flowers are strongly fragrant.