Emu Bush (Podocarpus drouynianus)


Podocarpus drouynianus, commonly known as the Emu Bush, is a handsome evergreen shrub native to the Great Southern Region in southwestern Western Australia. Appreciated for its elegant form and soft foliage, this species is a valuable addition to both native and ornamental landscapes. It is associated with the understorey species in lowland Jarrah and Karri and is found in sparse regions over a 20,000-square-kilometre area.

The Emu Bush is a small to medium shrub that typically reaches 1 to 1.8 metres, with a spread ranging from 1 to 1.5 metres. Its growth habit is generally rounded and often does not form a single trunk. Instead, it grows multiple branches from around the base. The branchlets are densely clad with glossy, needle-like leaves, giving the tree a lush appearance.

Podocarpus drouynianus thrives in well-drained soils with good moisture retention. It is adaptable to various soil types, including loamy and sandy soils. While it can tolerate slightly acidic to neutral pH levels, ranging from 6.0 to 7.5, it generally prefers somewhat acidic soils. Regular soil testing can help ensure the pH is optimal for healthy growth.

This Podocarp species is well-suited to cool and wet temperate climates and is mainly found in the Great Southern Region of WA. It prefers cool to moderate temperatures and is drought-hardy once established.

While it can tolerate short periods of light frost, it generally thrives in areas with milder winters. Podocarpus drouynianus is also adaptable to coastal conditions, making it suitable for planting near the sea.

Emu Berry performs best in partial to full shade. It can tolerate some sun, but exposure to prolonged direct sunlight may result in needle burn. Providing the tree with at least 4 to 6 hours of indirect daylight daily ensures vigorous growth and a well-developed canopy.

Proper watering is crucial, especially during the establishment phase of Podocarpus drouynianus. The soil should be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. Once the tree is established, it becomes moderately drought-tolerant, but regular watering during dry spells is recommended. Specimens have been known to tolerate heatwaves up to 45°C.

Fertilisation is generally not required. However, in soils with very low or poor fertility, applying a balanced, slow-release native fertiliser in spring can support healthy growth. It’s important not to over-fertilise, as excessive nutrients can lead to imbalances and affect the tree’s well-being.

Podocarpus drouynianus typically requires minimal pruning. Its multistemmed habit results in a well-balanced natural form that requires little maintenance. Pruning may involve removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branchlets, and the tree can be tip-pruned and shaped as needed to maintain symmetry. Pruning is best carried out in late winter or early spring during the dormant season.

Podocarpus drouynianus is highly valued for its ornamental qualities and will make an excellent specimen in many native garden landscapes. Its elegant form, glossy foliage, and adaptability to various soil types make it a versatile choice. In its native Southwestern Western Australia, it contributes to the natural biodiversity of forests and is an essential part of the ecosystem.

Podocarpus drouynianus, the Emu Berry, is a graceful and adaptable evergreen shrub that brings beauty to various landscapes. Whether used as a standalone specimen or integrated into a larger garden design, its glossy foliage and well-defined shrub-like form make it a captivating addition. Providing the right growing conditions, including well-drained soil and adequate moisture, ensures the health and vitality of this valuable Podocarp species.

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