Plant Profile: Bursaria spinosa

Discover Bursaria spinosa, a native Australian shrub known for its thorny branches and fragrant flowers.

Bursaria spinosa is a native Australian shrub that can serve as an asset in many gardens. Characterised by its dense thorny branches and fragrant white flowers, this plant stands out in gardens and natural habitats alike.

It’s a hardy choice for local gardeners due to its adaptability and minimal maintenance needs. For those keen on cultivating a piece of native Australian flora, the Bursaria spinosa is a prime contender.

Family and Subfamily: PittosporaceaePittosporoideae

Bursaria spinosa belongs to the Pittosporaceae family, a group mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions. Plants in this family often have leathery leaves and aromatic flowers.

This plant falls under the Pittosporoideae subfamily, characterised by woody shrubs or small trees with alternate leaves, flowers with five petals, and berries or capsules as fruit.

Bursaria spinosa: Basic Information

  • Common Names: Australian blackthorn, Sweet Bursaria
  • Scientific Name: Bursaria spinosa
  • Origin: Australia
  • Plant Type: Large deciduous shrub
  • Size: 2-4 meters in height with a spread of up to 3 meters
  • Leaf Type: Small, oval, dark green
  • Flower Colour: White


Bursaria spinosa exhibits a bushy growth habit, growing as a large deciduous shrub. Its small, oval-shaped leaves are consistently dark green. Come spring, clusters of white flowers adorn the plant.

By late summer or early autumn, small round fruits known as drupes become a noticeable feature.

Natural Habitat

Native to Australia, Bursaria spinosa thrives in regions like New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. You’ll typically find this plant in open woodlands, forests, and grasslands.

How to Grow Bursaria spinosa

Gardeners may be drawn to Bursaria spinosa for its thorny branches and fragrant flowers. It’s not a commonly grown domestic plant, but those who venture to cultivate it will find it a rewarding experience.

Growing Conditions:

  • Soil: Well-drained, sandy or loamy. pH: slightly acidic to neutral
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Climate: Adapts to cool, temperate, and sub-tropical. Drought resistant but not frost-tolerant

Planting Guide:

  • Timing: Best in spring or autumn
  • Spacing: 2-3 meters apart

Care and Maintenance:

  • Watering: Moderate, especially during the first year
  • Pruning: Late winter or early spring
  • Mulching: Use organic mulch to retain moisture
  • Feeding: Balanced fertiliser in spring if desired

Pest and Disease Control:

Bursaria spinosa may face issues with aphids, scale insects, and fungal diseases. Regularly inspect and treat with organic solutions when necessary.

Special Features

The dense thorny branches of Bursaria spinosa offer a natural security measure for gardens. Its sweet-scented flowers attract pollinators, and its edible fruits have culinary uses.

Wildlife and Pollinators

The fragrant flowers of Bursaria spinosa attract bees and butterflies, ensuring these pollinators have a steady food source.

Uses in the Garden and Beyond

Bursaria spinosa can serve as a hedging plant or a standalone feature in gardens.

Historically, it’s been used for medicinal purposes, treating ailments ranging from diarrhoea to respiratory issues.

Environmental Benefits

By choosing the drought-tolerant Bursaria spinosa, gardeners can conserve water use in their gardens. The plant also offers habitats and nourishment for local wildlife, promoting biodiversity.

Bursaria spinosa FAQ

Is Bursaria spinosa suitable for smaller gardens?

Due to its potential size and spread, Bursaria spinosa is best for medium to large gardens. Ensure it has ample space to grow.

Is Bursaria spinosa native to Australia?

Yes, Bursaria spinosa, commonly known as the “Sweet Bursaria” or “Blackthorn”, is native to Australia.

Are there any specific care tips for Bursaria spinosa in extreme weather?

In extended dry periods, ensure it gets moderate watering. While it’s drought-tolerant, prolonged lack of water can stress the plant. It’s not frost-tolerant, so consider this when choosing its planting location.

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Linda Jones

Based in sunny Brisbane, Linda has a keen interest in ornamental plants. She firmly believes that gardens are as much about aesthetics as they are about functionality. Despite being a life-long gardener, she still enjoys learning about new plants and gardening techniques and sharing her discoveries with the Ultimate Backyard community. When she's not immersed in her garden, Linda loves reading and walking.


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