Norfolk Island's isolation has allowed plants and animals to develop here that are found nowhere else in the world. The island is home to around 200 native plants, including more than 40 which are only found here.
Before European settlement subtropical rainforest covered almost the entire island. Norfolk Island National Park and Botanic Garden now contain most of the island's remaining natural areas, making them a vital refuge for conserving the island's plants and animals. Download our plant guide for more information.
Plants of special interest
Norfolk Island pine Araucaria heterophylla
One of Norfolk's best known symbols and common across the island, this magnificent tree can grow as tall as 60 metres. Cultivated around the world as an ornamental tree, its wood is used for construction, wood turning and crafts. The seeds are a popular food for the endangered green parrot.
Norfolk Island hibiscus/White oak Lagunaria patersonia
This is a commonly occurring, large and spectacular tree on Norfolk Island. It can grow to more than 20 metres tall. Its pink and mauve coloured flowers fade to white with age and have a waxy texture. Watch out for the seed pods which contain sharp hairs that can irrirtate your skin.
Nettle tree Boehmeria australis australis
With sandpaper-textured leaves and a serrated leaf margin, this small, spreading tree occurs naturally within and adjacent to thte national park and botanic garden. There were fewer than 50 mature trees remaining but propogation and planting has seen the numbers and distribution increase on Norfolk.
Bastard Oak Ungeria floribunda
The abundant pink flowers give the bastard oak its Latin name floribunda. Growing to around 15 metres tall, it is mostly limited to isolated stands within and immediately surrounding the park. Not only is this species endemic to Norfolk Island, the Ungeria genus is found nowhere else in the world.
Photo courtesy Kevin Mills
Phillip Island hibiscus Hibiscus insularis
While the entire wild populations of this plant is confined to Phillip Island, thanks to widespread plantings it is now well distributed throughout Norfolk Island. Its beautiful flowers are cream to light green with a dark magenta centre when they first open. The flowers then redden as they age.
Samson's sinew Milletia australis
Samson's sinew, also known as wild wisteria, often appears as large woody coils hanging from the tops of trees. Its springtime flowers are cream-coloured, sometimes with a bluish tint. They are followed by thick bean-like velvety pods. You will find this vine throughout the botanic garden and in the south-western section of the park.
Norfolk Island palm Rhaopalostylis baueri
Reaching 10 metres in height, its attractive bright red fruits is one of the green parrot's favourite foods. This palm is known locally as niau. Early settlers used the growing tip as a vegetabled. They also used the ribs of the palm fronds for making brooms and wove the fronds into baskets.
Evergreen Alyxia gynopogon
This shrub can grow to four metres. It has dark glossy leaves with pointy ends forming whorls around the branches. The small white flowers resemble minitaure frangipanis, and its green seeds turn an attractive dark orange when ripe. It is common in shaded forest throughout the botanic garden, national park and adjacent areas.
Forest achyranthes Achyranthes arborescens
You can find small stands of this small tree in the gullies and occasionally on the ridges of forested areas within and surrounding the park. Once down to extremely low numbers, it has been successfully propagated back to widespread distribution around the island.
Bloodwood Baloghia inophylla
A blood-red sap oozes from cuts in the bark of the bloodwood. This common, low-growing tree has smooth-edged medium-large leaves which are thick and glossy. Early settlers used the sap for staining furniture, marking convicts' clothing and thought it a good tonic and astringent.
Ironwood Nestegis apetala
This small tree, usually with wavy-edged leaves is relatively common in Norfolk's forests. Its common name alludes to its hard timber which was used for fence posts and other jobs where durability was important. Fruits are most often yellow sometimes red or purple, and look like small olives. Birds like the fruit which helps its prolific regeneration in the native forest.
Whitewood Celtis paniculata
These large and spectacular trees can be identified by their white to grey trunks which are often buttressed at the base, and their leaves which generally have one side longer than the other. Clusters of green flowrs can be seen in summer, after which a small round fruit is produced.
King fern Marattia salicina
The fronds of this large, robust fern can reach lengths of three to six metres. A few years ago there were less than 250 plants left in the wild. Although found mostly in the moist valleys of the national park, there are also a few specimens in the botanic garden.
Norfolk treefern Cyathea brownii
This attractive treefern is in the Guiness Book of Records as the tallest in the world, and can be found in the gullies of the national park and botanic garden. The trunk of the Norfolk treefern is much smoother than its close relative, the rough treefern. For the early settlers, the centre of the treefern stems (the heart) provided good food for livestock.
Flax Phormium tenax
You can often see this tufted, broad-leaved, grass-like herb on exposed cliff faces around Norfolk and Phillip Islands. Captain Cook, on discovering Norfolk Island, thought that the flax could be used to make sails, and the Norfolk pine for masts. It was one of the reasons that convicts were sent to settle on Norfolk Island.
Sia's backbone Streblus pendulinus
The name of this tree is reputed to refer to the pliability and toughness of the wood. Common to forested areas across the island, its leaves have sandpaper-like texture. This plant is responding well to broad-scale woody weed control in the national park with many seedlings spontaneously occurring in treated areas.