Katandra Bushland Sanctuary

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The Laurel Family

Often referred to as the Laurel family, Lauraceae is represented by about 2800 member species world-wide, 90 of which are found in Australia within 8 genera. Because the Laurel family is so ancient and was so widely spread over the Gondwana supercontinent, member species are often found in relict populations isolated by geographical barriers (eg on islands or tropical mountains).

Laurel trees are an important source of many essential oils. Their leaves contain microscopic oil dots which give a pleasant odour when crushed. Bay leaves from the Bay Laurel are used in cooking while other laurel species are a source of medicinal products, spices (eg cinnamon, sassafras) or oil-rich fruit (avocado). The sap within the plant is often toxic so many laurel trees are valued for producing fragrant timber that is not susceptible to insect attack. Cinnamomum camphora, the Camphor Laurel tree is considered a noxious weed in many parts of NSW.

Katandra is home to five species in the Lauraceae family, three are trees, all of which are not common in the area, and two are climbers.

Trees - Cryptocarya glaucescens (Jackwood or Native Laurel), Cryptocarya microneural (Murrogun) and Endiandra sieberi (Corkwood).

Climbers - Cassytha glabella (Slender Devils Twine), Cassytha pubescens (Common Devils Twine).

Cryptocarya glaucescens  

(Jackwood or Native Laurel)

Cryptocarya glaucescens, commonly known as Jackwood, Native Laurel or Brown Beech, is a medium sized tree growing to 35 metres. It grows in rainforest areas in NSW and Queensland, being abundant in the Royal National Park and Illawarra area but is not common in Sydney.

The bark is smooth grey when young but thick, fissured, fibrous and dark reddish brown on older trees. The base of the trunk on large trees can often be buttressed. Leaves are alternate, elliptical, 6-13cm long, tough, shiny, concave and taper to a blunt point at the end. They are green on the upper surface but blueish-green below. Like most local species of Lauraceae the central vein on the leaves is a strong pale-yellow colour. Flowers are small (5mm wide), pale green, numerous in panicles and appear from October to December. The fruit is a shiny black drupe with a wrinkly surface about 20mm wide.

Cryptocarya microneura  


 Cryptocarya microneura, known as Murrogun is very similar to C. glaucescens. The two species often occur together and C. microneura is also uncommon in the Sydney area. Flowers of C. microneura are more white and slightly larger (about 8mm wide), the fruit is slightly smaller

(about 15mm wide) when compared to C. glaucescens and the leaves are not bluish-green below.

C. microneural is a larval host plant for the butterflies Chaetocneme beata (Common Red-eye Butterfly), Netrocoryne repanda (Eastern Bronze Flat Butterfly) and Graphium sarpedon (Blue Triangle Butterfly).

Endiandra sieberi   


Endiandra sieberi or Corkwood is also a medium sized tree (to 30m) uncommon in the Sydney area. Its leaves are similar to C. microneura except smaller (5-9 cm long). Its bark is pale fawnish grey, thick, corky, deeply fissured and hard. In colonial times its bark proved to be an unsuccessful cork substitute. The flowers of E. sieberi are small, white and in axillary panicles. After flowering in spring, it produces fruit in the form of shiny, smooth, deep blue or purple drupes up to 25mm long. The straight trunk of large trees is sometimes shortly flanged but not buttressed at the base.