At our last meeting Catriona Bate and Phil Trickett (as leaders of the ANPSA Isopogon and Petrophile Study Group) explained about these not well known generae. One of their aims is to try to get more isopogons and petrophiles into cultivation in public and private gardens.
There are 93 species of isopogons and petrophiles all endemic to Australia. The two genus names mean ‘equally bearded’ and ‘rock loving’ respectively. By far the most species come from the south-west of Western Australia although we do have a dozen or so here on the east coast in temperate or semi-arid areas from South Australia all the way up to Queensland.
Isopogons and petrophiles are very closely related to South African proteas and leucodendrons. After flowering the round nuts remain on the plant, holding on to their seed until drying, damage, fire or even death of the plant causes the seeds to fall. The shape of these nuts on the end of the stem is the reason these species are commonly called drumsticks or conesticks.
To help inspire us to grow these lovely plants Catriona demonstrated the attractiveness of the flowers, foliage and habit. The flowers are mostly yellow or pink but sometimes cream or white. They are long-flowering and make good cut flowers if given sufficient water. While the peak flowering period is mostly spring, there will be something in flower from June right through to December and it is possible to see flowers out here on the coast as late as Easter. Isopogons and petrophiles are generally small shrubs ranging from about a foot to around a metre high although some grow up to a few metres. A highly ornamental feature plant, they are also good in pots or massed plantings and can even be quite sculptural. Most are frost tolerant and can be pruned.
At this stage there are eight species with conservation status of priority flora (poorly-known and potentially at risk) and five species listed as threatened (likely to become extinct, rare, or otherwise in need of special protection). Cultivation is a way to help conserve endangered species. Remarkably, they were grown in Britain in the 19th Century but the knowledge and interest has been lost and they are rarely seen in gardens these days.
The lucky listeners to Phil and Catriona’s talk were given a comprehensive insight into the fascinating study of Isopogon and Petrophile flora and we thank them for their instructive talk.
Above: Vice President Geoff Gosling introducing the talk
South Eastern Region District Group The Australian Plants Society South East region aims to promote an awareness of Australian native plants in our community, inform its members about native plants and act as a social group for people with an interest in these plants. Meetings We generally meet on the first Saturday of each month except December and January. As our group covers the coastal area from Batemans Bay to the Victorian border and inland to the Monaro, we meet at varying locations.
Members We currently have over 80 members making the group an active and friendly one. Our members mainly live in the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley Shires but anyone can join. Newsletter Our newsletter contains details of meetings and trips as well as information on plants and habitats and tips on propagation. It is produced every month except January.
Contact Us Secretary.firstname.lastname@example.org