Plant of the Month – July 2014

COAST BEARD-HEATH

(Leucopogon parviflorus)

          

(Photos: E. Cousins, Cape Jervis)

 

The common name of Coast Beard-heath for this plant comes from the dense hairs (or beard) on the petals of its white flowers. These flowers are produced in dense clusters of 7-13, on spikes about 3cm long. The springtime photos above show the shrubs in full bloom, so be on the lookout for beautiful flower displays like this in a couple of months … and look also for the honeyeaters attracted to them.  Coast Beard-heath is an important food source for a number of native birds over summer, but the birds return the favour, in that its seeds are difficult to germinate unless they have passed through a bird’s stomach! The bushy shrubs grow to about 1.5 metres on the coastal heath around Cape Jervis. Leaves are narrow, with tips that sometimes appear bent backwards (recurved).  The tiny fruits are smooth, white globes, like little pearls. These are edible, and lead to a second common name for the plant, the native currant.

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