28 March 2009

Phymatocarpus maxwellii

Click image to enlarge

Phymatocarpus maxwellii

An impressive looking shrub with mass displays of bright pink/purple flowers. The foliage is small, but neat and the shrub bushy (usually 1-1.5 metres or 3'-5') in height, although amongst taller vegetation it can reach 2.5 metres. In low lying sandy areas it can dominate, or be scattered in mallee hollows, I have even encountered plants on top of sandy hillocks, around granite outcrops, swamps and along flood plains, so it is a very successful and highly adaptable shrub, yet I cannot recall it being used domestically for home gardens.

The neat foliage is firm, but not prickly and often has a bluish grey coloration. The flowers initially develop as scattered globular heads, but these increase in number over a week or two, until the shrub is aglow with color. This mass display will last for a week or two, then slowly fade to be replaced by scattered flower heads again. All in all, flowering will span several weeks, with the best local displays invariably occurring during October, although they can bloom anytime from August to November.

Phymatocarpus differs from Melaleuca, Kunzea, Callistemon, etc, by the attachment of the anthers to the filament. With Phymatocarpus they are connected at the anther base, whilst the other genera in the middle of the anther (botanically known as being versatile).