12 July 2015

Astroloma epacridis - Heath

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Astroloma epacridis - Heath

This is a WA endemic and common between Ravensthorpe and Albany, plus inland from Perth. However around Esperance it is less so and I only know it from around inland (Mallee) saltlakes, where favouring fine yellow/brown sand/clay loams, similar to ‘Brickies Sand.’ Although elsewhere gravel type soils are also popular.

Astroloma epacridis is quite a variable species in both form and flower colour, but locally it develops into a compact shrub of around ½ metre (20”) in height x 1 metre (40”) wide, with bright scarlet flowers. Apparently elsewhere it can be a sprawling shrub, and/or upright to twice the local height, and/or with pinkish flowers.

Visually the local shrubs with their dark green leaves and compact foliage have a dark appearance, especially in shaded areas, but this habit also accentuates the brightly coloured flowers, which in contrast glow like red opal on a dark background. Flowering time is lengthy and can be anytime of the year, but local weather conditions would determine exactly when.

The sharply pointed leaves are less than 1 cm (3/8”) in length, whilst the flowers are to 1.5 cm (little over ½”) long. Important identification features with this species are the hairless petal tips and the spreading leaves.

Astroloma is part of the Ericaceae (Heath) family, but may also be listed under Epacridaceae.