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Plant Collections

Southern China Collection

China has 1/8th of the world’s plants. Many of these are important in Chinese culture and have been cultivated and celebrated in art and everyday life for centuries. Some plants are medicinal or useful for fiber or festivals and others are highly ornamental. Although not a traditional Chinese garden, the layout uses elements of Chinese garden design. Views to the Ornamental Lake reveal still water reflecting the surrounding landscape.


Aspidistra elatior

Evergreen perennial for dry shade.

Ophiopogon jaburan 'Vittatus'

Ground cover, white stripped leaves, blue fruits.

Mahonia japonica 'Bealei'

Handsome evergreen shrub, yellow flowers in winter.

Trachycarpus fortunei

Hardy palm with fibrous trunk.

Camellia grijsii

Dainty white single flowers, handles periods of drought.

Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis

Elegant shrub 1m tall x 1.5 wide. Fragrant flowers in winter.

Plant Census

Find out what plants grow at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

Key Plants

Prunus mume 'Alboplena' Mei Hua, Plum Blossom

Earliest blooming scented Cherry Blossom.

Magnolia denudata Yulan

Exquisite white flowers on bare stems.

Arisaema franchetianum Cobra Lily

Puppet-like flower from corm, winter deciduous.

Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis Chinese Sweet Box

Hardy evergreen shrub for shade, winter perfume.

Salvia miltiorrhiza Red Sage Dan Shen

Traditional Chinese Medicinal herb, purple flowers in early summer.

Boehmeria nivea Chinese Silk Plant Ramie

Silver leaved fiber shrub in nettle family.

Camellia granthamiana Grantham’s Camellia

Rare Camellia from Hong Kong big white flowers.

Metapanax delavayi

Elegant evergreen dainty rare shrub for shade.

Magnolia x alba Bai Lan

Evergreen tree, needs shelter, highly perfumed flowers.

Curator Notes

  1. Beauty Bush Kolkwitzia amabilis is now rare in the wild.
  2. Feed Tree Peonies as new growth unfolds. Keep well mulched during summer.
  3. After flowering remove old stems fromIris confusaIris japonica and Iris tectorum.


The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne has grown Chinese plants for 150 years. Thanks to support from the Sidney Myer Fund and Mr Bob Cherry this collection was developed in 1999. Hundreds of plants collected in Yunnan, China by Gardens' staff were introduced in the 1990s.