Family: Malvaceae
Common Name: Norfolk Island Hibiscus

This single-species genus, native to coastal Queensland and Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands of Australia, makes a very useful street tree in the right conditions. It is also a fine specimen tree for large gardens.


L. patersonii grows 10-15 m (33-50 ft) high, making a tall and narrow shape or becoming wide and spreading, depending on conditions. It has oval, pale gray-green leaves and hibiscus-like, generally pink, open dowers over a long period. The fruits contain bright red seeds. The irritant hairs on the seed capsule give rise to another common name, cow itch tree. This is a particularly good tree for exposed coastal sites.


In frost-prone climates, grow in pots of soil-based potting compost in a cool greenhouse. Give good light. In the garden, Lagunaria needs well-drained soil and full sun. Young plants require protection from frost, but once established, this plant tolerates light frost. Propagate from seed (being mindful of the hairs on the seed capsule which can cause irritation to the skin), or from cuttings taken in autumn.


Zone 10, but also warmer parts of zone 9.