Our Best Urban Native Tree

Published by TIPL on


When you are next driving through an established part of Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle, or any of our other major eastern centres (particularly just after a storm), look around you and note the trees that look to be the healthiest, the bushiest and make the greatest positive contribution to the urban landscape. It is likely that many, possibly most, will be Lophostemon confertus – BRUSH BOX.

Mature Lophostemon confertus
Mature Lophostemon confertus

Brush Box, while highly regarded, is often overlooked in the search for something novel. However, the success of any new urban tree planting project will be a function of how well the planted trees actually perform. Reliability is critical and looking to use unproven species, maybe to add variety or make your project stand-out, can lead to disappointment.

Without a doubt, Brush Box is the most useful and reliable urban native for use in Eastern Australia.


The foliage is lush and dense; the bark takes-on beautiful salmon tones; it is robust, strong and tolerates a wide range of soils and climatic conditions; it forms a dense rounded canopy when used in urban situations; and, unlike so many of our Australian native species, it can be pruned.

Brush Box is an iconic Australian native tree but, due to its foliage size, colour and density, it also mixes extremely well with exotic tree species. It makes an excellent “bridge” between more natural native areas and more structured plantings that include exotic trees.


Sadly, not all Brush Box that find their way into our urban landscapes have been grown well. Growing them is challenging and it is easy to ruin young trees during early stages of production.

Trees Impact 400 litre Brush Box in production. Deep crowns, regular internodes, strong tapered stems, no stakes, great root systems.

At every stage of production, from propagation onwards, root division must be strictly supervised and managed so as to avoid girdling or circling roots, or other root deformities. This takes knowledge, skill and time.

Staking must be avoided and trees must also be grown at generous spacings. Staking and/or overcrowding of fast growing species, like Brush Box, leads to reduced calliper, a lack of stem taper (or even reverse taper) and results in trees that cannot support themselves. More importantly, this lack of structural integrity in young trees can make it difficult, or impossible, for them to ever grow into strong healthy trees in the landscape.

So, when sourcing Brush Box always look for healthy vigorous specimens with deep crowns, regular internodes, strong tapered stems and no stakes. Ensure they are not too big for their containers, are self-supporting, exhibit distinct butt-flare and that there is no evidence of root girdling (or other root deformities) within the rootball.

And this is what we mean:

Left: Young (400mm pots) Brush Box in production for Trees Impact at our nursery, Karignan Plantation. Excellent foliage and form. Completely self-supporting with no stakes.
Right: Up close with potting media washed away. Sturdy stem, butt flare and stem taper. Absolutely “text book” radiating root system devoid of circling/girdling. Pretty well perfect

For “bullet proof” performance, nothing beats well grown Brush Box. And nobody grows Brush Box as well Trees Impact.