Being a plant enthusiast I have many favourite plants with Myoporum platycarpum being a very distinguishable large shrub or small tree inhabiting most of the dry areas of South Australia. It occurs naturally in all of the mainland states.
It is readily identifiable as it can develop a canopy with drooping foliage with rough dark grey, fissured bark; a tree with prominence and character and can be very long lived. The foliage is bright green and when young often sticky with the new stems on close inspection having a raised wart like covering.
Myoporum platycarpum occurs in mallee communities but on many different soil types, mostly alkaline, sand to loam and is extremely hardy and frost tolerant. In some areas it can be the dominant tree in the landscape and on well drained deeper soils could reach 10 metres in height.
In the Riverland there are some lovely stands of Myoporum platycarpum. A couple of prominent populations are located just west of Blanchetown lining the Sturt highway, and also adjacent to the Sedan to Swan Reach road.
Myoporum platycarpum has some interesting common names. False sandlewood is used and this is a reference to when the timber is burnt as it emits a sweet aroma similar to the true sandlewood Santalum spicatum. Another common name is sugarwood which is a reference to a sugary substance known as `manna’ which can exude from the bark.
Myoporum platycarpum is an excellent shade, shelter or screening plant for dry areas. Its foliage is palatable to stock and is often grazed. It puts on an infrequent flowering display of small white fragrant tubular flowers anywhere from spring to summer and these can be quite profuse under favourable conditions. Whilst slow growing in the first couple of years it will put on a spurt once established.
Myoporum platycarpum has many attributes and should be widely considered for further planting in our dryer areas.