Finke Gorge National Park

FloraCommon Reed Ghost Gum MacDonnell Ranges Cycad Narrow-leaved Cumbungi Native Fig Orange Spade Flower Red Cabbage Palm Soft Spinifex White Cypress Pine White Indigo

There are some fine examples of the White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris) in Palm Valley and in the wider Finke Gorge National Park. The White Cypress Pine set against the backdrop of the rock-face escarpment in Palm Valley, is a stunning tree to behold, as photographed by Andy Brown.

White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris), Palm Valley © Andy Brown
White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris), Palm Valley © Andy Brown — click image to view full screen

A medium-sized evergreen conifer, that grows up to 12 metres in height (although it has been known to grow taller), it has an ascending crown of thin branches covered in scale-like, green or glaucous leaves. The bark is rough and dark grey-brown and the foliage has a blue-grey appearance. The cones are globose, approximately 1-2 cm in diameter, with six triangular scales, that open at maturity to release the seeds. It grows primarily on sandy soils, with a distributions that range from isolated individual trees to extensive forests.

Native to most of Australia, it the most widely distributed species of Callitris, found across all mainland states and territories of Australia, except for Tasmania.

An important plant for Aboriginal people. They crush the leaves and resin, using it as a body wash after soaking in water or mixing with fat and rubbing on the body. The resin of the tree was also used to make an adhesive.

White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park
White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris), Palm Valley, Finke Gorge NP — click image to view full screen

The wood is resistant to termites and the bark is used commercially in the tanning process. They are also a popular plant in the home garden, some people growing them in a pot to bring indoors at Christmas time.

The following photograph of the White Cypress Pine with the trunks of the Red Cabbage Palms against the escarpment in the background has an abstract almost surreal quality, beautifully captured by photographer Andy Brown.

White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris) & Red Cabbage Palms (Livistona mariae), Palm Valley © Andy Brown
White Cypress Pine (Callitris columellaris) & Red Cabbage Palms (Livistona mariae) © Andy Brown

Common names
Being wide-spread across Australia, there are a number of common names including White Cypress Pine, White Cypress-pine, Western Cypress, Northern Cypress Pine, Murray River Pine, Murray Pine, Coast Cypress Pine, Coastal Cypress, Bribie Island Pine, Western Sand Cypress, Western Cypress and White Pine. There are also Aboriginal names including lagumin (Wagiman) and karntirrikani (Tiwi).


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Charophyta
  • Class: Equisetopsida
  • Subclass: Pinidae
  • Order: Pinales
  • Family: Cupressaceae
  • Genus: Callitris
  • Species: Callitris columellaris

Footnote & References

  1. Callitris columellaris, Bribie Island Cypress, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://id.biodiversity.org.au/taxon/apni/51270981
  2. Callitris columellaris, The Gymnosperm Database, https://www.conifers.org/cu/Callitris_columellaris.php
  3. Callitris columellaris, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Callitris_columellaris (last visited Jul. 23, 2022).
  4. White cypress pine, Alice Springs Desert Park, https://alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/connect-with-nature/plants/plants/white-cypress-pine

Finke Gorge National ParkCamping & Picnic Area Boggy Hole Palm Valley Fauna Flora

FloraCommon Reed Ghost Gum MacDonnell Ranges Cycad Narrow-leaved Cumbungi Native Fig Orange Spade Flower Red Cabbage Palm Soft Spinifex White Cypress Pine White Indigo