Tristaniopsis laurina: A Guide to the Water Gum

Discover the beauty and versatility of the Water Gum, a native Australian tree that’s both a garden favourite and an environmental asset.

Featured Image: Photo by Eug / Wikimedia (cropped)

The Water Gum, also locally known as the Kannooka, is a distinguished tree from the Myrtaceae family.

With its standout features and adaptability, it’s a top pick for many Australian gardens. In this guide, we’ll explore this tree’s unique attributes.

Family: Myrtaceae

Hailing from the Myrtaceae family, the Water Gum is a proud member of one of Australia’s most diverse plant families.

Recognised by aromatic leaves and small flowers adorned with numerous stamens, these plants are found across varied Australian landscapes.

Water Gum: Basic Information

  • Common Name: Water Gum, Kannooka Tree
  • Scientific Name: Tristaniopsis laurina
  • Family: Myrtaceae
  • Origin: Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales
  • Plant Type: Evergreen tree
  • Size: Typically 10-15 meters tall with a width of 5-8 meters
  • Leaf Type: Glossy, lance-shaped, dark green leaves, 5-10 cm long
  • Flower Colour: Yellow

Appearance and Features

Tristaniopsis laurina flower | Plant Profiles
Photo by Eug / Wikimedia

The Water Gum is an evergreen tree featuring a dense, rounded crown complemented by a smooth, greyish bark. It stands tall, usually between 10-15 meters, with a width spanning 5-8 meters.

Its leaves are glossy, dark green, and remain unchanged throughout the seasons. The tree blooms small, yellow flowers during spring and summer, followed by woody capsules filled with seeds.

Natural Habitat

This tree is native to parts of Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. It commonly grows in rainforests, forests, and along coastlines.

Growing Tristaniopsis laurina

Tristaniopsis laurina leaves | Plant Profiles
Photo by S.G.S / Wikimedia / CC0 1.0

Many gardeners choose the Water Gum for its resilience and attractive features. Whether in wild or domestic settings, it promises both aesthetic and functional benefits.

Growing Conditions

  • Soil: Well-drained with pH 6.0-7.0
  • Water: Regular, especially during dry spells
  • Light: Full sun to part shade
  • Climate: Temperate to sub-tropical. Drought-resistant, but not frost-tolerant.

Planting Guide

Plant Water Gums during spring or autumn, spacing them 5-8 meters apart.

Care and Maintenance

A little care ensures a healthy Water Gum. Prune in late winter or spring, apply organic mulch yearly, and water deeply, particularly during drier periods.

Pest and Disease Control

Fortunately, Water Gums don’t typically suffer from pests or diseases.

Special Features

With its glossy leaves, vibrant yellow flowers, and tolerance to diverse light conditions, the Water Gum is uniquely appealing.

Wildlife and Pollinators

The Water Gum’s flowers are a magnet for birds, bees, and butterflies.

Uses in the Garden and Beyond

Gardeners frequently showcase the Water Gum as a feature tree. It’s also ideal for creating hedges or screens. Companions like Banksia, Grevillea, and Callistemon complement the Water Gum beautifully.

Environmental Benefits

Being mildly drought-tolerant, the Water Gum is perfect for water-saving gardens. It’s also a sanctuary for local wildlife, offering them both food and shelter.

How fast does Tristaniopsis laurina grow?

Tristaniopsis laurina typically has a slow to moderate growth rate. Its growth rate can be influenced by soil type and quality, soil moisture, exposure to sunlight, and climatic conditions.

What is Tristaniopsis laurina luscious?

Tristaniopsis laurina ‘Luscious’ is a popular cultivar of the Water Gum tree. With the same evergreen charm as its parent species, this variety offers a few distinct benefits.

It has larger, shinier leaves, which make it more dense than the original species. It also features distinctive copper-coloured new growth, and yellow, sweetly scented flowers. This ornamental tree is great for landscaping, versatile in various environments, and typically reaches 7-12 meters in height.

It thrives in warm, moist conditions and tolerates different soil types. This cultivar is drought-resistant and can handle moderate frosts. It needs minimal additional watering, making it a relatively low-maintenance tree.

Water Gum FAQ

Can the Water Gum be grown in containers?

Yes, when given ample space, it can flourish in large containers.

Do Tristaniopsis laurina flowers have a scent?

While bees are attracted to its flowers, some people might find their smell a bit unpleasant.

Photo of author

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.


Leave a Comment