Notable Plants

Lagunaria pattersonii – Primrose Tree

Lagunaria pattersonii – Primrose Tree


  • Height: 40-50′
  • Spread:
  • Planted by: Cornell in 1931
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Synonyms
    • Common Names: Cow Itch, Tulip Tree, White Oak, Queensland Pyramid Tree, Australian Tree Hibiscus, Lord Howe Island Hibiscus
    • Botanical Names:

Lagunaria pattersonii - Primrose TreeThis medium to tall evergreen tree often has a pyramidal or columnar shape. The simple, oblong leaves are a dull green on top and whitish below they measure 3-4” long and are rather leathery. The flowers are 1.5 –2.5 and a pastel pink to purple color with sheen to the petals. This familial characteristic of hibiscus is obvious with the stamens fused into a tube that terminates with five separate stigmas.

The fruit is a persistent brown capsule with five cells, each with several bright red fleshy seeds packed together and protected by tiny fibers that are white when seen together but singularly they are hard to see. The seedpod splits along the back to expose the fibers that then tend to drift below the tree. This is inconvenient if people inhabit the area, as the fibers work their way into clothing and skin and are a confounded nuisance! This habit earned the tree the moniker Cow Itch Tree.

The tree is tolerant of poor or sandy soils it also tolerates sea spray.

Join a garden tour to hear the stories this plant has to tell!