Shady Reds: Breynia ‘Ironstone’

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This is one of those special native plants that has deep red to burgundy foliage when it receives lots of sun, like Agonis ‘Burgundy’. It is  also one of those special native plants that seems to have no height restriction, or rather non that is published, therefore when I found one that is about 10 years old I thought it worth a post. This specimen was about 4 to 5 metres tall.



This is Breynia ‘Ironstone’, a form of Breynia oblongifolia which is commonly found as an under storey plant in coastal NSW bushland. In the image above it had self seeded, producing little babies with the signature red foliage, in the shade it is mainly the new growth that appears red.


Breynia ‘Ironstone’ is a great plant for brightening up shady plantings or screening in difficult positions, it enjoys a moist sheltered position and is quick growing. You can shape it into a small tree by pruning back the lower branches or you can prune it all over to thicken it into a screening shrub.



In the image above I have used it as a feature plant, at the end of a row of Syzygium ‘LuLu’, it has a similar weeping habit and looks somewhat Robinia-like in it leaf structure, making it appropriate for blending into an exotic planting.



The soft, weeping habit stands out against the luscious greens of the lilly pillys and native violets. I would love to see this used as a hedge, I think it would make a wonderful backdrop for the planting in front. They can be a little bit hard to find in a retails nursery so if you spot one grab it, regardless of how sad it looks in its pot, unfortunately many quick growing species don’t look good in a pot for long!



12 responses to “Shady Reds: Breynia ‘Ironstone’”

  1. Gloria

    Does this tree have any intrusive habits or other short comings I should be aware of?
    Live in a coastal area, not close to the beach but poor soils which always need enriching. Small area with full afternoon sun and with Frangipani and Vinka as undergrowth.

  2. Kath Gadd

    Hi Gloria,

    Breynia ‘Ironstone’ can have a tendency to sucker, it is not aggressive but does need to be kept in check. It also needs to be annually pruned to create a dense habit, I think it would be fine in your soil as long as it was receiving adequate moisture.

    Best Wishes,


  3. Lesley

    Is it safe to plant where stock just might get access?

  4. glenys gray

    What is the temperature range please?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Glenys,

      Breynia ‘Ironstone’ seems to prefer a warmer sub tropical climate, hope this info helps,

      Best Wishes,


  5. Gerarda

    How would breynia ironstone go in a large container in full sun?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Gerarda,

      If you keep the water up every day and supplied it with a very large pot it might be OK.



  6. Gerarda

    Does breynia ironstone have invasive roots?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Yes, it can do, it also has very viable seed!

  7. Emaria

    Breynia Ironstone can be purchased on-line at ‘plants online’. Plants arrived well packed and in fine health. Need a good watering on arrival, then plant. Very easy to grow but like lots of water.

  8. Anne Hart

    I have a sewer easement close to where I’d like to plant the breynia bush/bushes. The sewers ar new (not the old concrete type, so would the roots go down 1.5 metres and possibly cause damage?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Anne,

      If the pipes are 1.5 metres deep and pvc not clay, there shouldn’t be a problem, the Breynias root system is more shallow than that and would be unable to get into the pvc anyway.

      Best Wishes,

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