Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Australian Botanic Garden

Pisonia umbellifera

The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan - May

Common name bird lime tree, cabbagewood, pisonia
Scientific name Pisonia umbellifera (J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.) Seem.
Family  Nyctaginaceae

Genus: Genus: named for William Piso (c. 1611-1678), Dutch physician, pharmacist, botanist, and early writer on medicinal plants of Brazil.

Species: from the Latin umbelliferum, umbelbearing or shade carrying, from umbrella
(altered from umbell), Latin for parasol, and named for the large leaves of this species.

Distribution It grows throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific. It is native to the Andaman Islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Hawaii and Madagascar and the states of New South Wales and Queensland in Australia.
Native habitat Grows in rainforest but may also extend to sheltered gullies in more open habitats.
Description A medium to tall tree with a rounded or spreading crown. It has insignificant flowers
and sticky, spindle-shaped fruits.
Flowering/fruiting Flowers in July to November and sporadically at other times.

Location in Garden

Hidden down the woodchip path in Bed 7 on the Connections Garden.


Bird lime is a sticky material traditionally prepared from holly, mistletoe or other plants which was smeared onto twigs to catch small birds when they landed. The common name for this species comes from its production of very sticky fruits which cling to large birds which fly them away and so ensure dispersal of the seeds. Unfortunately they also stick to small birds and either glue them to the trees where they starve or so impede their movement that they can’t fly or forage adequately to survive.