Variable Orites (Orites diversifolia)


Orites diversifolia (syn. Orites diversifolius), commonly known as Variable Orites, is a member of the family Proteaceae and is endemic to Tasmania. The common name stems from the variable form of the leaves, which range from entire and linear to serrated and ovate. It is found in lowland rainforest and mixed forest across western Tasmania and in subalpine woodlands and coniferous heath in the southwest to 1300m.

Orites diversifolia is common on the subalpine slopes of Mount Wellington and spreads through much of Mount Field National Park and the Southwest National Park. It is also found south of Bruny Island and around Mt Darwin in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

Here is some useful plant-growing information on Orites diversifolia:

Tree Height and Spread:

Orites diversifolia is an erect, rigid, branching shrub up to 3m tall, which occasionally establishes as a small tree in good conditions. Under most garden settings, expect heights of 1 to 2 metres and a spread of  1 to 1.5 metres. The branches are brown and hairy, and the leaves are stiff, leathery and alternate along the stems. Both the upper and lower surfaces are glabrous, with the upper surface a shiny green and the lower surface pale and glaucous. Leaf shape is linear but variable, frequently with serrated edges. Leaf margins are recurved and appear almost flat.

Preferred Soil Type and pH:

Orites diversifolia prefers well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic and organic, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. The shrub can tolerate various soil types, including organic, loamy, and clay loam soils. However, it does not grow well in waterlogged or poorly-drained soils.

Climate and Environmental Requirements:

Orites diversifolia prefers a cool, moist and shady site. Orites diversifolia can tolerate higher light exposure in the subalpine zone by reducing leaf and overall size. It is both frost and snow tolerant. Orites diversifolia is present in multiple floristic communities, which often contain dominant and co-dominant species such as Atherosperma moschatumPhyllocladus aspleniifolius, Nothofagus spp. and Eucryphia spp.

Light Requirements:

Orites diversifolia prefers full sun to partial shade for optimal growth. It can tolerate dappled levels under tree-canopy and still grow well, but it will not thrive in deep shade.


Orites diversifolia can be propagated from seed or cuttings. The seeds are collected from mature cones that have opened and released their seeds. The seeds should be sown in a well-draining mix and kept moist until they germinate, which can take up to several months. Cuttings can be taken from semi-hardwood in early spring and rooted in a wet, well-drained potting mix.

Pruning and Maintenance:

Orites diversifolia requires minimal pruning, but it should be done to maintain its shape and remove damaged or diseased branches. The tree should be watered regularly during its first few years of growth to help establish its root system. Once established, it is a relatively low-maintenance species in cool temperate gardens. More care should be taken if growing in warmer locations, particularly over the warmer months.

Pests and Diseases:

Orites diversifolia is relatively pest and disease-resistant. However, it can be susceptible to fungal diseases like Phytophthora, root rot and canker. These diseases can be prevented by ensuring proper drainage and avoiding injury to the tree during planting and maintenance. Pests such as spider mites and scale insects can be controlled with insecticides if necessary.


Orites diversifolia is primarily used for ornamental purposes in gardens and botanical gardens. Its attractive foliage and shrub habit make it popular for small gardens and limited spaces.

Orites diversifolia is an interesting and attractive shrub species well-suited for cool, alpine environments. It is relatively low-maintenance and requires minimal pruning. It can be propagated from seed or cuttings and prefers well-drained soils with a slightly acidic pH. The shrub is primarily used for ornamental purposes due to its attractive foliage and shrub habit.

Weight 3 kg
Dimensions 40 × 14 × 10 cm
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1 to 2 metres, 2 to 4 metres

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0 to 0.5 metres, 0.5 to 1 metre, 1 to 2 metres

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