08 January 2009

Smokebush - Conospermum distichum

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Smokebush - Conospermum distichum

A compact shrub to a metre (3') in height (although usually smaller) and forming spreading colonies in heathland with deep sandy soil, where the hairy blue and grey flowers provide an eye-catching bright smoky appearance amongst other heath vegetation. As can be seen in the photographs above, this and other Conospermum species have a very small flower opening, so are not designed for bird or mammal pollination, but instead rely on various flying insects to do the job of cross pollination.

The foliage is soft and fine, and the plant blends well into the environment except when in flower when it then excells. Most flowers tend to bloom together making a stiking floral display, which fortunately for wildflower enthusests lasts for several weeks. These features of mass display and long flowering have also made this and other smokebushes, popular with the cut-flower industry, which in some instances have suffered from over-collection, although less so since most cut-flower species these days are grown commercially and not collected from the bush.

In the Esperance region flowering can begin in August and finish during November, although September and October would be the main period when displays are at their best.