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Characteristics of West Australian Peppermint Tree (Agonis flexuosa) in the Wild

West Australian Peppermint Tree (Agonis flexuosa)

Western Australian Peppermint or Willow Myrtle (Agonis flexuosa) is a species of tree from the Myrtaceae family that grows in southwest Western Australia. The population center is in a subcoastal strip north of Perth, south through the Swan Coastal Plain, then along the coast to a remote record east of Bremer Bay.

Agonis flexuosa is the most common species of Agonis and is one of the best-known trees in Western Australia.

Noongar people know Agonis flexuosa by the names Wanil, Wonnow, Wonong, or Wannang.

Two varieties of Agonis flexuosa are known, namely:

  • Agonist flexuosa var. flexuosa – found in Southwestern coastal areas, common.
  • Agonist flexuosa var. latifolia – ranges from west of Walpole to Cheyne Beach, and is also found in the Stirling Range.

Cultivated variants may originate from widely dispersed populations, grow as shrubs or trees, and may not flower. Some commercially produced cultivars include Agonis ‘Belbra Gold’ and Agonis ‘Fairy Foliage’. The Agonis cultivar ‘Nana’ is a dwarf form of tree commonly seen in Perth as a hedge plant.

Characteristics of West Australian Peppermint Leaf

Agonis flexuosa Leaf
Source: Grigory Heaton

The leaves are short and up to 15 cm long, dull green, grow in a weeping habit, and look very much like Willow Tree (Salix babylonica) from a distance. The leaves have a strong peppermint aroma when the leaves are crushed or torn.

Characteristics of West Australian Peppermint Flower

Agonis flexuosa Flower
Source: Neil Ralph Tucker

The flowers are white, small, and clustered tightly. This tree flowers between August and December in its native habitat.

Characteristics of West Australian Peppermint Fruit

Agonis flexuosa Fruit
Source: clayt_

The fruit is a hard capsule, 3-4 mm wide, with three valves containing many small seeds.

Characteristics of Western Australian Peppermint Tree

Agonis flexuosa Tree
Source: Goomburrup Aboriginal Corp

Agonis flexuosa grows as a small, vigorous tree, usually less than 10 meters high, although it can grow up to 15 meters. It has brown, fibrous bark, the trunk can also have a spiral effect as it ages.

Agonis flexuosa’s habitat includes limestone fields, stable dunes, and sandy soils.

Agonis flexuosa is an attractive garden or tree specimen in temperate climates. This tree grows quickly and produces large amounts of detritus. The trunk sometimes becomes large and disproportionate to the rest of the tree.

Benefits of Western Australian Peppermint Tree

Agonist flexuosa is used in mass plantings, such as street shade trees, and has been introduced to Rottnest and the Garden Islands near its native range.

The Noongar people use the leaves of Agonis flexuosa as an antiseptic, the young tree trunks are used to make spears and digging sticks.

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