The book I'm reading at the moment, Seasons of Content by Jackie French has a reference to flowering pittosporums. She writes, "Pittosporum blossom is supposed to send bees mad and, according to (male) Aboriginal lore, send women mad with passion too.. " Although she goes on to say that she has never seen either of these phenomena (and neither have I), I knew at once which tree she was talking about. We have one of these trees on the west side of our house and the scent is intense, especially at night. If we slept outside, under animal fur or beside a fire, and if the weather was as balmy as it has been, well I could imagine it might drive some women to lust. Before succumbing to hayfever. I can stand under this tree for maybe five minutes, taking it all in, before I start to sneeze.
photo on the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants (ASGAP) webpage. Not the easiest of pages to navigate but good for identifying plants, if you have some information to start with. My mum had told me the tree was a pittosporrum so I was off to a good start. I had thought that it was a weed tree and was pleased to discover that it is a native. However the description page states that although indigenous to the Sydney area, it is an environmental weed in Cuba, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Western Victoria. Unlike many natives, this tree grows well in disturbed and nutrient enhanced soils. In addition the seeds are eaten by birds and are likely to grow where they are excreted. And this tree can grow quite large, shading out other species. So according to the ASGAP people, it shouldn't grown anywhere within several kilometres of bushland. Another plant that is a common garden ornamental and weed in bushland is the Cotoneaster which orginated in China. We have one near our front gate and every autumn when it sheds red berries everywhere, I consider chopping it down. Not that it is ours to chop but I often consider chopping it down anyway.