Pimelia Australian Plants Society Northern Tasmania Launceston
About Activities Contacts Gallery Membership Plant of the Month Program Links

Plant of the Month.

The Examiner newspaper and their garden scribe Les Hodge have developed a “Native Plant of the Month” which appears in Les’ garden page in the Saturday Examiner prior to our meeting on the third Tuesday each month. The article features a different native plant’ botanical details and is illustrated with a large coloured photo of the plant selected. It creates a lot of interest in plants that otherwise would not be so well known. On Les’ page he also gives our group invaluable publicity about our meeting the following Tuesday.
These are some of the Plant of the Month articles.

POM Home

Click here to view 2010 'Plants of the Month'

Click here to view 2011 'Plants of the Month'

Click here to view 2012 'Plants of the Month'



Western Australia is home to an amazing number of beautiful native plants which are found nowhere else in the world. Among these is the genus Verticordia, commonly known as feather flowers because of the colourful fringed edges of their sepals.

There are about 100 species and around 40 subspecies and varieties of Verticordia ranging in colour from brilliant scarlet through pink and yellow to white.

A number of species have been successfully grown in northern Tasmania and are available in nurseries which stock native plants. Probably the species most often seen here is V. plumosa which is shown in the picture. It is a shrub which grows to about 50cm tall and the same distance across, producing a mass of pink flowers for a long period during spring and summer.

This is a frost-hardy species which, like all Verticordias, needs very well drained soil (provided, for example, in a built-up bed or rockery) and the more sunlight the better.

Because of their beauty and their potential for the cut flower trade, the cultivation of this genus is being researched extensively and we can expect to see more species, including some grafted onto more hardy rootstock, available over time.

Small amounts of fertiliser specially formulated for natives will be beneficial and for some species pruning will maintain a better shape.

It is well worth keeping an eye out for these magnificent shrubs and planting one if the opportunity arises.



Many gardens have a wet patch and not all plants like “wet feet”. However there are several native Tasmanian plants which can provide a colourful solution in this situation.

Quite a number of Tasmanian natives occur as natural groundcovers in swampy or damp locations and many of them produce large numbers of smallish but beautiful flowers on a dense background of foliage. Flowering often lasts for several weeks or even months.

Most of these plants spread quite quickly over a wet patch so it is not necessary to buy large numbers of plants. Furthermore, two or more species can be planted together (mimicking the natural diversity found in swamps) and producing a range of colours.

Mazus pumilio, swamp mazus, has attractive purple flowers which are held just above the rosettes of dark green leaves. The plants will flower for long periods in spring and summer provided conditions stay damp.

Pratia pedunculata (matted pratia) has white or blue star-like flowers about 1cm in diameter. This species, as the common name suggests, forms dense tangled mats with the flowers held above the light green foliage. Leaves are small (less than 1 cm long) and almost round.

Montia australasica (until recently called Neopaxia australasica) or white purslane, is another mat-forming species with attractive white of pink flowers about 1 cm in diameter and fleshy leaves.

Or, why not plant a really rare species which is endemic to Tasmania but does well in wet areas in Launceston gardens. Ranunculu prasinus, the tunbridge buttercup, is a prostrate species found naturally only in a few wet areas in the Midlands of Tasmania. It produces golden flowers about 1cm across and the lobed leaves are typical of the genus although quite small.

All these species are readily propagated by division and are available from nurseries which stock native plants, particularly those which specialise in Tasmanian natives.



Isopogon is a genus of some 35 species and members of the Proteacae family and another unique Australian native.

The generic name come from the Greek “isos” meaning equal and “pogon” meaning beard referring perhaps to the hairs on the fruit or to those on the tips of the flowers.

The majority of the Isopogon species is found in the south west corner of Western Australia where so many of our brilliant natives are found.

Some species occur naturally in eastern Australia, including Isopogon ceratophyllis (horny conebush) which is native to the Furneaux Islands in Bass Strait, but not to mainland Tasmania.

Most Isopogons are small to medium sized rounded shrubs growing up to two metres in height and are ideally suited to suburban gardens.

The very attractive and unusual 50mm diameter flowers are formed as globular heads on the end of a branch as are the fruit.

The stiff and on some species prickly leaves are 40 to 50mm long and divided into many narrow segments, which are very tough and resistant to blemishes. Seed is plentiful and easy to collect falling easily from the “cones” when picked almost ripe and placed in a paper bag to dry. Seeds are easy to raise providing a very course, well drained seed raising mix is used.

Care must be taken with seedlings to avoid “damping off” hence the need for a course potting mix with plenty of washed quartz sand included.

Isopogons grow happily in Launceston being frost and drought tolerant once established. They require a sunny and very well drained course and neutral soil.
The Isopogon pictured in a Launceston garden is named “Candy Cones” and is a hybrid cross, I. Formosus and I. Latifolius and is quite spectacular with its large pink flower heads, which are at their peak in late spring.

Other species and varieties that are sometimes available at Tasmanian nurseries include I. Formosus and I. Anemonifolius.

Isopogons are different and beautiful shrubs that will be a real conversation piece in any Tasmanian garden.



Correas are among the most popular native plants in Tasmanian gardens and public places. Their popularity is well deserved for a number of reasons. They produce beautiful bell-shaped flowers in winter, when colour is at a premium; all species and varieties withstand frosts and many of them are tolerant of salt spray; birds are attracted to them; they tolerate part shade and full sun; a variety of colours, including colour combinations is available; and finally, they are available as erect shrubs and as ground covers.

The genus Correa is a small one, with only 12 species, although a number of varieties and hybrids are also commercially available. Apart from one species which occurs in WA, correas are found naturally only in south-eastern Australia, including Tasmania which has four native species.

Correa alba (white correa) is found naturally around Tasmania’s coastline, growing just above high water mark and withstanding the full force of winds and salt spray. It is a shrub which grows to a height of around 1.5m but a low growing form suitable as a ground cover is available as is a pink flowered, prostrate cultivar called Correa alba var. pannosa “Western Star”.

Correa reflexa, another species native to Tasmania, is a popular plant in gardens. Flowers may be greenish yellow, red or red with greenish tips.

Correa ‘Marian’s Marvel’ which has pink flowers with green tips prefers a shaded site.

One of the most popular correas is C. pulchella (the species name means “small and beautiful”), a neat shrub to about 50cm tall with pink to orange flowers, a beautiful species which is suitable for even a small garden.

A species with interestingly shaped flowers is C. bauerlenii, known as the chef’s hat correa because its pale green flowers resemble that piece of headwear. This species, which grows to about 1.5m tall, prefers at least part shade.

Correas are readily available from nurseries and are quite easy to propagate from cuttings.

Like most native plants, they need well drained soil and many of them benefit from pruning after flowering.



The myrtle family, named after the genus Myrta (not represented in Australia), contains several thousand species, many of which are of commercial significance. Cloves and allspice, guavas and some of the world’s largest trees (eucalypts) are all members of this large and important family.

Many members of the family such as the Callistemons (bottle brushes) and Leptospermums (tea trees) are popular garden plants.

The genus Calytrix is not as well known as those mentioned above, but deserves to be more widely included in gardens. Of the 76 Calytrix species most are native to WA and many produce brilliantly coloured flowers. Unfortunately the WA species do not normally flourish in the eastern states and are not readily available in Tasmania.

Only one species, C. tetragona or common fringemyrtle, is native to Tasmania. This species is usually a shrub to about 1.5m tall, with a profusion of attractive white star-like flowers over spring and summer. There is also a prostrate form, useful as a rockery plant, and forms with flowers in various shades of pink are sometimes available.

Each of the sepals (which lie below the petals) has a long awn (hair) attached to its tip and these give the flowers a distinctive “fringed” appearance. After the petals are shed the awned sepals provide an interesting display.

White-flowering shrubs of common fringemytle can be seen in the Trevallyn Nature Recreation Area e.g. along the South Esk track between Aquatic Point and Trevallyn Dam and in many other parts of the state.

All Calytrix species well-drained, preferably sandy, soil and full sun. Propagation is easy from cuttings and plants should be available from nurseries which stock Australian natives. Common fringemyrtle is frost-hardy and should be a useful plant for gardens near the coast as it grows naturally in proximity to the sea.



Tasmania has eight species of Leptospermum, commonly known as teatrees, five of which are endemic to the state (i.e. they occur naturally only here). They are part of the family Myrtaceae, which also includes our Eucalypts and many other important groups of shrubs and trees.

Teatrees make excellent garden plants, especially the endemic autumn teatree, Leptospermum grandiflorum, which is found naturally on the east coast in areas such as the Lake Leake Highway, Cherry Tree Hill on the Tasman Highway and on the Freycinet and Tasman Peninsulas.

The species was named by George Loddiges, a renowned English horticulturalis and scientist, who developed a huge nursery which grew plants from stock imported from all over the world, including Tasmania. As well as establishing the nursery, the largest hothouse in the world at the time and an arboretum, he produced between 1817 and 1833, twenty volumes of the journal Botanical Cabinet which contained 2000 coloured engravings. It was in this journal in 1821 that he described Leptospermum grandiflorum. The specific name, grandiflorum (from the Latin grandis florum, meaning large flower) aptly describes the flower of this plant which is 2.5 to 3 cm across.

The autumn teatree flowers profusely in the autumn, as the name suggests and the flowers vary from white to shades of pink. It is a large shrub growing up to 5m. The foliage is an attractive greyish green and the seeds are contained in a large five-celled woody capsule.

This species can be used as a very attractive feature shrub or as a screen or hedge in a sunny to semi-shaded position. Once established it will withstand dry conditions.

It can be propagated easily from seed or cuttings or purchased from nurseries which specialise in Tasmanian natives. Forms with pink or white flowers and grey or green foliage are available.



Climbers add another dimension to the garden by providing height, especially in limited areas and narrow walkways that are difficult to landscape. They also provide colour and contrast to existing trees and shrubs as they climb and scramble amongst them. They can become living boundaries when grown over fences. Trained on a trellis, they can screen or divide courtyards, play areas, barbeque areas, water tanks and compost heaps. They can be used as shade, to shelter a room or patio from wind and sun. There are several indigenous Tasmanian climbers that would be happy in most gardens.

Billardiera are climbing plants found only in Australia. They belong to the Pittosporum family. Commonly referred to as ‘Apple Berry’ there are seven species occurring naturally in Tasmania. Billardiera longiflora ‘ Purple Apple Berry’ is a woody, twining climber with narrow dark green leaves. The pale green tubular shaped flowers in spring and summer provide nectar for birds. Flowers are followed by a stunning display of oval shaped, deep purple berries. These can last from mid summer through autumn. They are easily grown in a cool, moist, semi-shaded position and are hardy enough to cope in full sun in cooler areas. Good drainage is essential.

Billardiera mutabilis or ‘Green Apple Berry’ will scramble over and through other plants. It has furry, sometimes silky, yellow-green leaves with wavy margins. The greenish- yellow, bell shaped flowers in spring/summer are followed by berries of the same colour. The mature fruits are juicy, and have a flavour similar to stewed apples hence its name by the early settlers as the ‘Apple Dumpling Berry’. It is quite a hardy plant and grows well in part shade or full sun on sandy soil or clay. Propagation of Billardiera can be difficult from seed, as they may not germinate for many months, however it does strike well from cuttings.

Other well known climbers that are native to Tasmania are some species of Clematis. There are six species of Clematis that are found in Tasmania. Clematis aristata ‘ Old Man’s Beard’ is a vigorous climber with large leaves and masses of creamy-white star-like flowers in spring followed by fluffy seed heads. Juvenile foliage is purplish with silver markings. A semi -shaded location that is moist and well drained will ensure good growth. Prefers to grow to the top of a support and then spread horizontally. It will provide an impressive display on a trellis.
Clematis microphylla ‘ Small-leafed Clematis’, is a hardy plant, with narrow leaves, that tolerates dry conditions. It grows well in light sandy soil or clay but must have good drainage. Full sun or part shade. A great climber for coastal gardens that can also be used as a ground covering plant. Clematis seeds are a food source for birds and are also used in nest construction. Propagation of Clematis is from fresh seed or cuttings that can be slow to strike.

Carefully chosen native climbing plants can make a spectacular addition to your garden, providing stunning displays and, best of all, food, shelter and nesting sites for birds.



What's an Australian garden without banksias? They can be grown in sites throughout a garden where it may be difficult to get other plants to grow. In their natural range banksias grow in a variety of habitats that include poor sandy/gravelly soils, in seasonally wet to waterlogged sites and in dry rocky places. This versatility means it is possible to find a number of species to plant in those hard-to-use spots in our gardens, or indeed anywhere you can make the space.

Surely the banksia is one of Australia's iconic genera. Banksias have appeared on bank notes, stamps, in books for both children (we all remember the bad, bad banksia men in Snuggle Pot and Cuddly Pie by May Gibbs) and adults and feature spectacularly in botanical art.

Some 78 species occur in Australia along with a number of sub-species, natural hybrids and varieties. All but one species are endemic to Australia with over 80% occurring only in Western Australia (61 species). Banksia dentata (the tropical banksia) grows across the top end of Australia and into New Guinea and on some of the islands to the west. In addition, the horticultural industry provides interesting cultivars for gardeners, particularly for small gardens where larger shrubs or trees are not an option. They include prostrate forms, small forms that can be grown in condensed spaces as well as size and colour variations in floral spikes.

Banksia flowers have the added advantage of attracting native birds to feed on the nectar or on the seeds. The fertilised flowers develop into those classical woody spikes (often referred to as cones) of different sizes and shapes that remain on the plant for some considerable time.

Tasmania has two native species with a third that grew on some of the Bass Straight Islands now presumed extinct. Banksia marginata (silver banksia) is widely distributed throughout the state from sub-alpine (above 1000 m) to coastal and from wet to dry forests and woodlands. It occurs in many sizes and shapes (from small shrubs of 0.5m to trees of 12m) with a range of leaf sizes and shapes and flower spikes. They grow well in gardens in and around Launceston.

The other Tasmanian native species, Banksia serrata (saw banksia) is restricted to two locations, one at Sisters Hill near Rocky Cape and on Flinders Island. Its common name comes from the shape of the leaf margin which is strongly and coarsely serrated. It grows from a shrub to small tree (up to 12 m) with thick gnarled and twisted branches to provide a classical old man banksia shape.

The species now considered extinct in Tasmania, Banksia integrifolia (coast banksia), grew on King Island and Long Island off Wilsons Promontory (as a lone tree). It grows well in the Tamar Valley, usually as a tree of up to 25 m although smaller, bushy forms are available.

Many of the Western Australian species have spectacular and showy flower spikes. Banksia menziesii (firewood banksia), a shrub to about 2-3m tall, grows well in Tasmania in sandy soils. As the flowers open in autumn to winter they release wiry golden styles from the lower part of the spike with red unopened flowers tipped with silver in vertical rows above to give an acorn shape.

An interesting one for wet to seasonally waterlogged sites is Banksia robor (swamp or wallum banksia) that grows in the wallum country in coastal SE Queensland and N coast of NSW. It has a very broad and large leaf (30 x 10 cm) and grows to about 2 m. The flower spikes are large and bluish-green in colour in the early stages but turn yellow-green as the flowers open.

With a little bit of research on the internet or in nurseries you should be able to find a banksia that will suit any aspect of your garden and provide interesting displays of sizes and forms as well as a variety of colours and shapes in leaves and flower spikes. Plant one today and enjoy.



Spring in Tasmania brings with it some magnificent displays of our beautiful wattles. One of them, Acacia pycnantha, is our national floral emblem and the green foliage and golden flowers have become Australia’s official colours. In 1992 September 1st was officially named Australia –wide as Wattle Day and has been celebrated as such in each subsequent year. September is therefore a good time to consider planting one or more examples of this delightful genus.

The name “Acacia” is derived from the Greek acis, a thorn, although most Australian species are not thorny. Acacias belong to the family Fabaceae sub family Mimosaceae and there are some 954 species currently recognised as native in Australia.

Some wattles are small shrubs whilst others grow into large trees. A. melanoxylon whose common name is blackwood and from which magnificent blackwood timber is sourced, grows into a large tree with a very long life span. Other popular wattles grown in suburban gardens, such as A. baileyana, cootamundra wattle, and A. pravissima, ovens wattle, grow rapidly into small trees which usually have a fairly short life span of 15 to 20 years.

However, there are many suitable acacias for even a small suburban garden, such as A. myrtifolia, redstem wattle, which is a shrub to 1 to 2 metres in height. Its reddish branches are an attractivefeature even when the plant is not in flower.

Over recent years nurseries have developed dwarf and prostrate forms of wattles suitable for even the smallest spaces. For example A. pravissima and A. baileyana (pictured) are available as wonderful prostrate plants very suitable for rockeries and as ground covers. Similarly A. fimbriata, A. pravissima and A.baileyana have been developed as dwarf wattles growing to a height of 1.5 to 2 metres as vibrant, compact shrubs with a brilliant golden display in spring.

Novelties which have become available fairly recently are wattles with flower colours other than gold, such as the wonderful Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’. This beautiful variety was discovered in bushland north-east of Melbourne as a single plant in a population of Acacia leprosa with the normal golden flowers. Fortunately its significance was recognised and material was collected from it for propagation. The wild plant is now, unfortunately, dead.

Add some brilliant colour to your garden with these newly developed wattles or more traditional ones, many of which are available from local nurseries.



The family Lamiaceae, so-called because the flowers generally have two lips, includes many species of commercial importance. Some, including sage, mint and lavender, are sources of essential oils. These species and others including rosemary are also raised as culinary herbs. Many representatives of the family are cultivated as garden plants e.g. species of Salvia, Ajuga and Leonotis.

Quite a number of species from this family are native to Tasmania and several of these are endemic to the state. One genus, Westringia, has four species native to Tasmania, three of which are found nowhere else in the world, and all members of the genus are endemic to Australia.

All four species of our Tasmanian Westringias are shrubs with attractive white flowers whose petals are usually spotted with purple and often have a splash of yellow at the throat. Flowering is usually profuse and lasts for much of the year. They are all very hardy, being tolerant of a wide variety of habitats and soil types and temperatures. They are excellent for dry areas and some species will withstand salt spray, making them very useful in seaside gardens. Pests and diseases do not seem to be a problem.

The two Tasmanian species which are most often found in gardens are W. rubiaefolia and W. angustifolia. Both grow to a height of about 1m and respond well to pruning.

Many of the mainland species are similarly hardy and several are likely to be available in nurseries around Launceston.

Westringia fruticosa is a species which is native to the coastline of NSW. It grows to a height of about 2m and is often planted as a hedge. The foliage has a silvery appearance due to small hairs on the undersurfaces of the leaves.

W. glabra, native to Victoria and NSW produces bluish mauve flowers in spring and W. ‘Glabra Cadabra’, a cross between W. glabra and W. fruticosa, is a dense shrub about 1.5m tall which bears violet flowers among its dark, glossy green leaves.