Monday, 17 March 2008

Botanising at the Arboretum I

In the heat of summer, the Western Australian eucalypts keep going at the Points Arboretum. Not only are they the Energizer bunnies of the Myrtaceae, the WA species also bear the most ostentatious flowers. This is just my opinion, you understand. I'm not sure that anyone has done the definitive study on it. Apart from the marri, which blossoms so profusely (see the previous post), fuchsia gum (E. dolichorhynca or E. forrestiana dolichorhyncha, take yer pick) and mottlecah (E. macrocarpa) are also doing their thing at the moment.

Fuschia gums have splendid flowers but the buds that precede them are just as grand. The source of the common name is obvious. (If you've ever seen a fuchsia, that is. If you haven't, you're probably scratching your head.) In the wild, they are restricted to the Esperance region of southern WA but are widely cultivated.

Everything about the mottlecah is over the top. The powdery silver leaves are arranged in pairs, each set at ninety degrees to the pair below in an Art Deco symmetry. The buds are also silver, sometimes flushed with rose pink. An emerging flower pushes the cap aside. Occasionally, it remains at a jaunty angle. And that flower is such a show off. The blossoms are up to 100 mm (4 in) across.

Mottlecah occurs naturally across a narrow band of south western WA from north of Perth south-east to Wagin.


Sherrie said...

Mottlecah? It's the sort of thing that, if one were to draw it and hang it on the wall in THIS part of the world, one would be accused of MSU. (Making S*** Up.)

Lyn said...

Hi Snail,
Mottlecah - one of my most favourite of Eucalypts and wildflowers!! Unfortunately my pathetic attempts to grow it on the north coast of NSW always end in failure (even with the use of sand shelter etc). I wish I could take a quick flight to the arboretum for Easter...

Anonymous said...

I love that place ... we used to go over there (rarely, but still ...) while living in SE of SA.

Anonymous said...

what an interesting looking plant

Snail said...

MSU? Yeah, but we'd know the truth. They have a bit of a straggly growth form, which is probably just as well. A 40 foot tree covered in those flowers would just be too much!

Lyn, have you tried them in pots? I haven't been brave enough to give them a go here.