An Australian Ogham

The very title of this post is rather awkward really. I mean Ogham is an ancient Celtic alphabet that is connected to trees and Australia is a continent on the opposite side of the globe. Yet many years ago I found myself exploring the Ogham alphabet and reading some of the associated facts and folklore. I noticed at the time that many Pagans and Druids used this system for magical work, and that those antipodeans who followed the Celtic path found themselves with a fascinating system but unfortunately none of the trees. It was the catalyst for my journey towards making a connection with the plants of my homeland and considering how they might be similar and different to those of the homeland of my ancestors.

Eucalyptus Trees in the Rainforest

I believe it's always worth investing the time in getting to know your local flora, however you choose to use this knowledge. At the time I had searched for any information from those who had made the same journey ahead of me. I felt like it would have been helpful to have a starting point, a framework from which to branch out from. In the interest of perhaps helping others on this same journey, I will share the list of trees and plants that I felt matched up to the Celtic trees of the Ogham. It's a manifestly imperfect system, but if it proves to be a catalyst for others seeking a connection with nature then I will feel happy.

Fig Trees in Rainforest

The Ogham is a set of  20 characters that form an alphabet. They are formed with straight lines that were carved into wood or stone. I will not attempt to go into the history and will leave that to the experts. Traditionally the alphabet has been matched up to twelve trees. I considered the characteristics of these trees and attempted to seek out Australian natives with similar characteristics that could be used as substitutes by those who wished to work with this system in Australia. As I said, and ideal situation would be to create a unique system for Australia but I know the desire to connect with the Celtic Ogham is important for many people. Anyway, for what it's worth, here is what I came up with. I'm happy to provide more information about my choices if anyone would like to ask, but for now, I'll leave this as a starting point.

Coastal Landscape, Queensland
 Celtic Tree
 Australian Tree
Botanical Name
 beith (b)
 luis (l)
 Harpullia Pendula
 fern (f)
 Avicennia Marina
 sail (s)
She Oak
 Casuarina Glauca
 nion (n)
Crows Ash
 Flindersia Australis
 uath (h)
Flame Tree
 Brachychition Acerifolius
 dair (d)
Gum Tree
 tinne (t)
Lilly Pilly (Riberry)
 Sysygium Luehmannii
 coll (c)
Macadamia Nut Tree
 ceirt (q)
 Mangifera Indica
 muin (m)
Native Raspberry
 gort (g)
Australian Violet
 Viola Hederacea
 ngeadal (ng)
Reed / Fern
 Phragmites Australis
 straif (z)
Blueberry Ash
 Elaeocarpus Reticulatus
 ruis (r)
Lemon Myrtle
 Backhousia Citriodora
 ailm (a)
Fir / Pine
Hoop Pine
 Araucaria Cunninghamii
 onn (o)
Golden Wattle
 Acacia Longifolia
 ur (u)
 eadhadh (e)
Aspen / Poplar 
 Banksia Integrifolia
 iodhadh (i)
Fig (Moreton Bay)
 Ficus Macrophylla
Colours of an Australian Landscape

Some of the choices may seem odd but I haven't always made the match based on the look of the tree. Australian native trees are unique and very different to those in the northern hemisphere. Some of the connections are based on characteristics, for example, in folklore the aspen is often associated with healing and journeys to the underworld. I have matched the banksia with this because it is symbolic of wisdom and age. Also the phallic flowers remind me of the herms associated with Hermes from Greek myth and make me think of his role in accompanying souls to the world of Hades. These kind of personal connections evolve over time and frankly make little sense. I mean after all, we are talking about an ancient Irish alphabet used for pagan magical work and I'm bringing in Greek myths and Australian trees. It's crazy stuff but ultimately the whole process taught me a lot about the folklore and myths associated with trees and nature as well as giving me a much deeper and more profound understanding and respect for the trees that I live amongst. An overall win I think.

Gum Trees (Eucalyptus)


  1. Thank you for taking the time to create/research/reconnect with the Australian trees. A fascinating array of choices. Bright blessings!

    1. Thank you for commenting, I'm so glad you found it interesting.

  2. I love this, thank you. I found your blog by typing 'Australian Ogham Species' in the search bar.. I know of others in Katoomba and other regions putting together lists relevant to their their neighbourhood, but those have differed greatly from my own, of course, whereas your list feels more familiar. I'm in NE NSW but within a dry rainforest/riverine/subtropical rainforest ecotone, so some species are in common, and others, not so..

    I smiled looking at your list, as I have the same species listed for those that 'just had to be'.. Araurcaria cunninghamiana for Ailm, of course! And I elected my more local Casuarina cunninghamii SheOak for Willow..

    It's a fascinating process, isn't it, nursing some desire to relate back to the Ogham of the ancestors, but having a deep love of our own endemic species, too. I have included Elderberry and Hawthorn in my list. After years of trying to buy and propagate Hawthorn for regular medicinal use, I finally tracked some down on the tablelands where it is a weed, but this patch had not yet been despatched. I am environmentally responsible, so I watch my Elderberry like a hawk, bagging fruit before it ripens so the birds don't spread it, but when my Hawthorn finally fruits I'll be very confident that nothing either I did nor some very experienced herb growers did for 3 years could persuade it to germinate, so that beautiful tree can flower happily and I'll pick the fruit at my leisure.

    I am still in the thick of my list.. I like yours, but have some species here that long ago stole my heart and the most difficult aspect of this is limiting the number of species. Of course I will sneak some into the Forfeda, as that allows Nothofagus to stand in for Yew, which leaves room for Ficus macrophylla as another Tree Ogham.. And Beith, and Ash.. oh, the competition for those is harsh!!

    Many blessings upon your Ogham and thank you for this post :)

  3. Thank you for your comment and I am pleased that you found this post and that it was of interest. Thanks for sharing your own thoughts on the process of compiling an Australian Ogham. It is definitely an interesting process and I found that I learnt so much about native flora along the way. It is a challenge to limit the number of trees to match the traditional Ogham but I found that it prompted a lot of reflection on the qualities of the trees which helped me deepen my understanding overall. Good luck with your ongoing process. :)


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