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Characteristics of Moodjar Tree (Nuytsia floribunda) in the Wild

Moodjar Tree (Nuytsia floribunda)
Moodjar or Western Australian Christmas Tree (Nuytsia floribunda) is the only plant species in the genus Nuytsia in the family Loranthaceae, native to South Western Australia.

Nuytsia floribunda is a hemiparasite, is photosynthetic, and primarily obtains water and mineral nutrients from its host. The haustoria that emerges from Nuytsia roots attaches to the roots of many nearby plants and draws water and nutrients from them. Almost all species are susceptible to attack, haustoria have even been found attached to underground cables.

In the natural environment, Nuytsia floribunda withdraws relatively little from its respective hosts but attaches to so many other plants that the benefits of this hemiparasitic tree are likely to be great. Roots and rhizomes stick out and may form new branches so that it looks like a grove of trees. A network of fine, fragile roots emerges from the larger underground portion, forming haustoria where they meet the roots of other species. These roots or rhizomes can reach 150 meters in length, the most extensive of all known plants.



The Nuytsia floribunda or Moodjar tree is considered a protected tree by the Nyungar people of South Western Australia, the species is recorded as being included in rituals and has a conservation status that prohibits its destruction.


Characteristics of Nuytsia floribunda Leaf

Nuytsia floribunda Leaf
Source: Robert Webster

The leaves are highly variable, usually reducing to scales at the bottom of the stem. The alternately arranged leaves are sessile. The leaf blades are simple, somewhat fleshy or leathery, usually linear or ovoid with a tapering upper tip.

Characteristics of Nuytsia floribunda Flower

Nuytsia floribunda Flower
Source: tonybristoluk

The flowers are unisexual, bright yellow-orange, and produce large amounts of pollen and nectar, appearing between October and January. The inflorescence on each flowering stem can reach a length of one meter.

The very bright flower display during the Australian summer coincides with the Christmas season, hence the tree is known as the Western Australian Christmas Tree or simply Christmas Tree.

Characteristics of Nuytsia floribunda Fruit

Nuytsia floribunda Fruit
Source: Kell

The covered fruit contains seeds. The seeds contain abundant oily endosperm. Seeds do not have a seed coat (testa) but are covered with a sticky material. A well-developed embryo has two or one cotyledons.

Characteristics of Nuytsia floribunda Tree

Nuytsia floribunda Tree
Source: Nature Items

Nuytsia floribunda grows as a small evergreen tree, shrub, or small tree and reaches a height of up to about 10 meters. The diameter of the trunk can reach 1.2 meters, which consists of several layers of wood and bark which makes this tree resistant to fire.

Nuytsia floribunda is semi-parasitic on the roots of the host plant, which forms haustorial roots. The bark is rough and gray-brown.

Nuytsia floribunda occurs in a variety of soil types throughout South Western Australia. Its range extends from the Murchison River to the western tip of the Great Australian Bight. It occurs on sandy or granite soils in open forests woodlands and grasslands

Once common and well-known on the coastal plains around Perth, Nuytsia floribunda has become increasingly rare over time with increasing urban development density.

Although Nuytsia floribunda seeds germinate easily and seedlings are easy to grow for a year or two, cultivating this species to maturity is considered difficult, and has had little success outside its natural habitat. Because of this, Nuytsia floribunda is rarely cultivated even though its flowers are very beautiful and spectacular when they bloom in summer.

Benefits of Nuytsia floribunda Tree

Nuytsia floribunda flowers are traditionally used to make sweet drinks such as honey.

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