02 April 2009

Pink Starflower - Calytrix decandra

Click image to enlarge

Pink Starflower - Calytrix decandra

A very eye-catching heathland shrub that is common to this district, particularly in deep sandy soils and often associated with Banksia speciosa, but it can also be encountered in other well-drained locations. The flowers of the genus Calytrix and as the name refers, have a long stiff hair terminating each of the calyx lobes (cup in which the petals sit). This distinctive feature is highly visible, even when the petals have fallen, so the genus is easily recognised.

The plants have fine small green leaves that clothe the stems, allowing the shrub to blend into the environment, so not particularly noticeable except when in flower when the bright pink flowers demand your attention. The Pink Starflower is a small compact shrub of around 60 cm high x 1 metre or so wide (2' x 3') and often found sheltering under or around large Banksia speciosa shrubs.

Flowering occurs from August to December, but October and November would be the main period. Birds do not seem very interested in these plants, so I would assume the flowers are pollinated by an interesting collection of flying insects with an eye for color, maybe native bees, flower beetles, flower wasps, butterflies and/or flies like the Bee Fly.