White Cedar Nadiah Roslan

White Cedar

Also known as Cape Lilac. It reaches maturity when it is 6 – 10 years old and lives for about 20 years.

Deciduous tree, usually 10 – 15 m high but can reach 45 m in its natural environment. Its canopy is 6 – 8 m wide.


Bright glossy green and oval in shape, 2 – 7 cm long and 1 – 3 cm wide. They are arranged either side of a 12 – 45 cm long stem and turn yellow in late autumn before falling from the tree in winter.


Pale purple to white, star-shaped, forming clusters that are 10 – 20 cm long. Each individual flower is about 2 cm in diameter and consists of 5 petals. The flowers have a chocolate scent!


Round, yellow berries, 1 – 2 cm in diameter, grow in clusters.

Field Guide

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Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower

  • Full flowering (record all days)

  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)

  • First fully open leaf

  • Leaves open (record all days)

  • First leaf to change colour

  • Leaves changing colour (record all days)

  • First leaf to drop this year

  • 50% or more of leaves dropped (record all days)

  • No leaves (record all days)

  • Fruit fully ripened/berry reached full size (record all days)

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

  • Most of the year
  • Leaves appear in late spring
  • Flowers appear in spring and can last into summer
  • Fruits appear after flowering, usually in autumn
  • Leaves change colour in autumn before falling in winter

Where To Look

  • From north Queensland to southern NSW, usually within 100 km of the coast
  • Also in the Kimberley region in northern Western Australia, and in the tropical areas of the Northern Territory
  • Distribution extended as it is widely planted in urban areas and birds readily disperse its seeds
  • In dry, coastal and subtropical rainforests, along stream banks and in valleys
  • Common in urban areas, particularly in parks, public gardens and along stream banks and streets
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

The White Cedar is one of only a few native Australian plants that are seasonally deciduous in winter, although many species drop their leaves during droughts, particularly those in the north.