Plants of
South Australia
Codonocarpus cotinifolius
Poplar Bell-fruit,
Desert Poplar
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1

Prior names

Gyrostemon cotinifolius

Common names

Poplar Bell-fruit

Desert Poplar


Codonocarpus from the Greek 'kodon' meaning a crier's bell and 'karpos' meaning a fruit, alluding to the shape of the fruit. Cotinifolius means to have leaves like the genus Cotinus (Smokebush).

Distribution and status

Found in semi-arid South Australia from the Murray to the north-west corner growing in a wide range of habitats but usually in sandy soils and often common in disturbed areas, especially after fires. Also found in all mainland States. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Uncommon in the other States. More common post fire.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Short-lived shrubs or trees to 8 m tall, usually obconical in shape. Leaves obovate or oblanceolate, rarely elliptic or almost orbicular in young plants, to 50 mm long and 40 mm wide, acute or obtuse, glaucous. Male flowers on pedicels to 4 mm long and 6 mm across at anthesis; calyx scarcely lobed to almost circular; female flowers often borne on branches below the male flowers, (or below the terminal vegetative growth), with pedicels to 20 mm long; calyx shallowly lobed to almost circular, with 30 or more carpels, each with a terminal stigma arranged around the top of the central axis. Flowering between March and June. Fruits are pale brown bell-shaped fruit to 14 mm long formed from multiple seed segments. Seeds are dark brown to red reniform seeds to 3.5 mm long and 2 mm wide with a rugose surface and a yellowish aril. Seed embryo type is curved linear fully developed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between June and October. Collect fruits when the segments are about to fall apart, usually when colour changes to pale brown. Place the fruits in a tray and leave to dry for a week. Then rub the fruit gently by hand to dislodge the seeds from the papery wing. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. This species is generally difficult to germinate, it has morpho-physiological dormancy and complex germination requirements. This species is considered a fire responsive species.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA11,900 (47.29 g)1010-Nov-2011DJD2315
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.