Plant of the month 11/2020: Dubouzetia saxatilis

Photo: John Elliott

This month we highlight an uncommon plant that occurs naturally only on steep peaks SW of Townsville. It was first recognised scientifically in 1997 [1] and its conservation status is rated ‘Vulnerable’ due to very restricted distribution.

Photo: John Elliott

In the wild, Dubouzetia saxatilis grows as a small shrub extending almost horizontally from steep cliffs. It is seldom seen in gardens. People have planted in-ground specimens with mixed results: some survived over years, while others suffered sudden failure.

A few enthusiasts have maintained healthy specimens in large pots over decades. We thank Keith for his expert advice included below.

Photo: Keith Townsend

Successful Dubouzetia saxatilis in pots flower quite frequently but don’t seem to set seed. Propagation from cuttings is feasible but source material is scarce because these plants are slow growing.

Naturally growing Dubouzetia saxatilis tend to look somewhat untidy because their older branches die back while younger, more vigorous shoots develop. With plants in pots, occasional careful pruning can help to produce a more attractive plant.

Rather than using Dubouzetia saxatilis as a single feature plant, it is more effective to place several potted plants together in a cluster which helps to provide shelter for the developing cutting-grown plants.

Keeping Dubouzetia saxatilis pots on an open-mesh raised bench (see photo below) may be beneficial as it ensures good drainage and air circulation. It also helps to keep roots cool. In contrast, some Dubouzetia saxatilis that were placed on concrete and other hard surfaces have failed, possibly because their roots were subject to excessive heat.

Photo: Keith Townsend

For more details, see our species page for Dubouzetia saxatilis.

Reference [1] Bean, A., & Jessup, L. (1997). Dubouzetia saxatilis (Elaeocarpaceae), a new species from north Queensland, Australia. Austrobaileya, 4(4), 673-675.

Plant of the month 10/2020: Melaleuca dealbata

Thank you to Cameron for nominating this large shady tree as our Plant of the Month. Its abundant flowers caught his attention at Bushland Beach early in October.

Photo: John Elliott

Melaleuca dealbata has extra visual appeal when it puts on a flush of new growth, often around the same time as flowering. The outer layer of new leaves, each covered in a mix of erect silky hairs and short stiff hairs, gives the whole tree a beautiful silver-blue-grey sheen that is the basis of its common name Cloudy tea tree.

Photo: Julia Hazel

For more details, see our species page for Melaleuca dealbata..

Plant of the month 09/2020: Persoonia falcata

Several of our members made a mid-September day trip to the Burra. Unfortunately, mass flowering of Calytrix was not happening, but many other species of special interest made the outing a great success.

Outstanding plants for this Burra trip were Persoonia falcata, Grevillea parallela and Petalostylis labicheoides. The first of these was making a fine show and deemed worthy of P o M status.

Photo: John Elliott

Persoonia falcata is currently flowering on Castle Hill too, and can probably be seen in flower on most of the Townsville ridges.

For more details, see our species page for Persoonia falcata.

Photo: John Elliott

Plant of the month 08/2020: Corchorus hygrophilus

Photo: Julia Hazel

A highlight of the August NPQ outing was the discovery of a rare species, Corchorus hygrophilus. Most of us had never seen it before.

Photo: John Elliott

This small plant occurs only in isolated populations between Magnetic Island and central Queensland. More details are available on our species page.

After the NPQ outing, John and Nanette reminded us that the original type specimen was collected by Alan Cunningham near Cape Cleveland, just over 200 years ago.

Below is an extract from Cunningham’s journal (published in 1862 by Bentham)

The Rocks are a coarse grey-Granite, with others of a kind of Schistus, pieces of which were broken off & carried on board, but had no effect on the Compasses there. The magnetical attractive Principals are possibly in the Bowels of the Earth. In the Descent we traced a rugged Deep grooved Gully, that conducts the bodies of Water falling on the Hills in the Rainy Season to the lower flats, on the Margins of which I noticed some very fine Plants of whom a few were new to me, viz., Corchorus hygrophilus, capsulis 4-locularis rugosis foliis elliptico ovatis acutis 5-nervis serrataris [sic] inaequalibus subsetaceis racemis axillaribus [with 4-locular wrinkled capsules, leaves elliptical-ovate acute 5-nerved, unequally toothed and slightly bristly, racemes axillary], with seeds 120.

Plant of the month 07/2020: Acacia leptostachya

Commonly known as Townsville Wattle, Acacia leptostachya thrives in dry sunny positions and typically lights up local bushland and gardens with its bright flowers around this time of year.

Photo: Julia Hazel

The species is flowering particularly well at present (early July 2020) on Castle Hill (photos above and below) producing a gorgeous display amidst drying grass and weeds on the hill’s rough slopes.

Photo: Julia Hazel

For more details see our species page for Acacia leptostachya.

Plant of the month 6/2020: Neofabricia myrtifolia

For a long time, this attractive large shrub has been a popular choice for native plant gardens. Right now it’s easy to see why, as specimens in Townsville gardens are currently full of flowers (mid June 2020).

Photo: John Elliott

Neofabricia myrtifolia thrives in local gardens although it is not actually native to the Townsville area. It is a Queensland endemic, however, with it natural range in the northern part of Cape York.

For more details, see our Neofabricia myrtifolia species page.