Australian Biological Resources Study

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Flindersia maculosa (Family Rutaceae)

Leopardwood, Spotted tree, Spotted Dog, Leopard Tree, Prickly Pine



This species is found in inland New South Wales and extends into central Queensland. The latitudinal range is 20-33o S and the altitudinal range is 75-360 m. (QLD, NSW)


A graceful, pendulous, slow-growing, small tree, usually 6-10 m tall, that develops from a spiny multiple branched shrub. The shrub form is the 'grass' stage of development from which one stem grows upwards to form the main trunk. It produces root suckers. The bark is very distinctive, shed in small round scales leaving a white spot to give a mottled appearance. The leaves are simple, 1-8 cm long and less than 1 cm wide. The upper surface is shiny dark green and the lower surface dull and light green. The small, cream, tubular flowers are in terminal clusters. The woody fruit is about 2.5 cm long, dark reddish brown and opens into 5 boat-shaped valves with a rough surface. There are two winged, flat seeds in each valve. Flowering time is October - November and seed is mature in December. There are about 57 000 viable seeds per kilogram and no pre-germination treatment of the seed is necessary. Seed is best stored in airtight containers in a refrigerator (3-5o C)

Ecology/Way of Life:

Leopardwood occurs in the warm semi-arid zone. The northern part of its range is frost-free but elsewhere there are 1-12 frosts annually. Mean annual rainfall is 275-475 mm with a summer maximum. It is found on rolling lowlands and plains sometimes with small hills and ridges. Soils include black cracking clays, acid and neutral red earths, shallow sandy soils and calcareous red earths. It is a major species in tall shrubland to low woodland with dominants Geijera parviflora and Alectryon oleifolius. It is also found in pure stands or with Eremophila mitchellii or Atalaya hemiglauca.

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

The wood is bright yellow, heavy and very tough. It is little used, but has been made into pick handles and fence posts and could be a good fuel. The leaves are eaten by stock and it is an excellent fodder species. It is also suitable as a shade tree and as an ornamental and is a useful source of nectar and pollen for beekeepers. Early settlers extracted a soluble gum from it which was used to treat diarrhoea.

Other Comments:

Flindersia maculosa was named by George Bentham in 1863. One of the greatest English botanists, his seven volume on the 'Flora Australiensis' (1863-1878) was a major contribution to Australian botany. The genus honours the prominent navigator and explorer, Matthew Flinders (1774-1814); the species name is from the Latin maculosus = dappled or spotted, referring to the markings on the bark.

Further Reading:

Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. 1981. Plants of western New South Wales. Soil Conservation Service, Government Printer, Sydney.

Hall, N., Boden, R.W., Christian, C.S., Condon, R.W., Dale, F.A. Hart, A.J., Leigh, J.H., Marshall, J.K, Macarthur, A..G., Russell, V. and Turnbull, J.W. 1972. The use of trees and shrubs in the dry country of Australia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra. 558p.


Soils Plant structure Climatic zones Vegetation types Fodder Firewood Timber Ornamental Germination Windbreak Honey


Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy B. Gunn.

Sponsored by:

Brian Gunn/ACIAR

Images and Multi-media:  
Distribution Map  
image/jpeg 24812 bytes Distribution of Flindersia maculosa
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 35875 bytes Flindersia maculosa

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