29 April 2010

Conostylis vaginata - Sheath Conostylis

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Conostylis vaginata - Sheath Conostylis

Conostylis vaginata is another colourful member of the Haemodoraceae family that includes the popular Kangaroo Paw plants. The bright yellow flowers of this species are also tubular (although shorter) and can be found around 60 km (40 miles) west of Esperance, where they spread to the Albany district, some 330 km (over 200 miles) further away. They grow in low-lying areas on non-calcareous sand, gravel and sometimes over low profile granite outcrops, however it does not occur inland on the mallee soils that are typically a fine sand/clay over limestone.

There are a number of Conostylis species, but several features easily distinguish this one. The flower stems are to 2 cm (3/4”) in length and are sheathed in thin pale brown bracts that become much larger to enclose the base of the flower clusters, these are fringed with long white hairs that are an added attraction. The tubular flowers are around 1.5 cm (over ½”) in length and the compact clusters 1.5-2 cm (3/4”) diameter. The leaves lack any hairs and are rounded in cross-section.

This common rambling species can develop a semi-prostrate habit, or grow into a dome-shaped shrub to ½ metre (18”) in height and when in flower are very eye-catching, so not easily overlooked. The flowers bloom for several weeks during September and October.