*Gomphocarpus fruticosus

Family Asclepidaceae

Cotton Bush

Shrub to 2 m high, branches pubescent, with taproot to 10 cm and thin laterals. Juvenile period 6 - 9 months. Longevity up to 5 years.

Flowers: White, August - February.

Fruit: Large inflated follicle, covered with soft spines. Splits to release seeds February - December.

Seed: Plumed, wind-dispersed.

Gallery images: seed, seedling, rootstock, resprout


  • Native of South Africa, reportedly naturalised near Sydney by 1804.
  • Weed of grasslands, woodlands and disturbed sites in partial shade to full sun.
  • Occasional weed in grassland at the Australian Botanic Garden.
  • Foodplant of lesser wanderer butterfly.
  • Probably killed by fire.

Recent observations

  • Germination in warmer months, following September 2005 fire at Mount Annan.
  • Germination in November 2006 in area burnt, 7 October 2006.

Asterisk * indicates exotic species naturalised at the Australian Botanic Garden.

Ecology of Cumberland Plain Woodland

Gomphocarpus fruticosus plant

Gomphocarpus fruticosus flower

Gomphocarpus fruticosus fruit

Gomphocarpus fruticosus fruit