All hail sweet Bursaria! this native plant is a superstar performer in a native habitat garden fulfilling so many critters requirements and needs. I have been collecting images of Bursaria spinosa for about 10 years now, always looking for a flattering angle and light, it is not a particularly showy plant if not in flower, ensuring it is only photogenic in Summer. The Summer just gone was a wonderful flowering season for Bursaria and the images below were taken in Victoria, Tasmania and NSW.

Bursaria spinosa can be found from Tasmania all along the eastern seaboard and inland somewhat too. It grows well as an understory shrub but will also grow out in the open in dry Eucalypt forest as can be seen in the image above.

If grown out in the open it will become a small tree but is mainly seen as a large shrub growing from 2-4 metres high. Bursaria spinosa is not so fussy about soil but responds well to a bit of extra moisture in the drier months and looks lovely with regular pruning.

The Summer flowers cover much of the shrub and have a sweet honey perfume which attracts bees and butterflies. This species is important in the conservation of the Eltham Copper Butterfly in Victoria and they were highly visible wherever I saw Bursaria in the lower Snowy mountains near the NSW and Victorian border.

Not only is Bursaria important for attracting insects, it also makes an excellent habitat plant for small birds, who can hide in the dense prickly branches and feed off the insects within the shrub.
Bursaria spinosa attracts insectivorous birds and is a favoured nesting site for the Double-barred Finch, Wrens also commonly nest in the shrub and the fruit is enjoyed by the Pilotbird.

I would recommend planting Bursaria spinosa in any garden where attracting wildlife is important, it can also be used as a barrier plant to stop unwanted visitors to your garden two legged and four 😉



4 responses to “A must have in your habitat garden: Bursaria spinosa”

  1. Jo Corinna

    Hello I have a tube stock to plant in our native garden which is in process, have been planting since about August last year and gradually adding more plants. On terms of how much space Bursaria spinosa will need, and aspect am trying to work out the best location. Am thinking of planting just near bird bath and beside what will be little paved seating area. Will it be ok to plant about a metre in front of (which is the southern side) a Hakea gibosa and a Banksia ericifolia which we planted just in front of the back fence, they are only small so far but am concerned not to crowd them. The Busaria will potentially grow up to shade the Grevillea Victor Harbor and Grevillea Winpara Gem which would be on the southern side of the Busaria. Will it likely be bushy or more upright? Any feedback much appreciated. Thank you 😊

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jo,

      Bursaria spinosa has a more bushy habit and grows 2-3m wide. It can be keep closer to the 2m width with annual pruning, which also stops it becoming leggy but it sounds like it might be a little crowded in your position. Hakea gibbosa gets about 1.5m wide, and Banksia ericifolia around 2m wide. I would maybe add something a bit smaller or groundcovers to your spot and let your other planting grow out.

      Happy gardening,

  2. Elisabeth May

    I’m just wondering if Bursaria spinosa could be planted in a paddock for some sort of wind protection for sheep? Do you know if they are poisonous or dangerous to livestock and would they be interested in eating the foliage or not?
    Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Elisabeth,

      Yes, you could plant Bursaria as a windbreak. It is is very spiky, which would help deter livestock from grazing it and to the best of my knowlege it’s not poisonous. The leaves are known to contain esculin but I don’t think that is a problem for sheep.

      All the best,
      Hannah and Kath

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