Astroloma pinifolium

Distribution Map
Family: Ericaceae (subfamily Epacridoideae)
Distribution: Coast and adjacent ranges of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
Common Name: Pine heath
Derivation of Name: Astroloma....from Greek, astro, a star and loma, a fringe or border, referring to hairing within the floral tube
pinifolium....Similar in foliage to the genus Pinus
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

The plant family Ericaceae (heaths and heathers) is widespread in many parts of the globe, particularly Europe and South Africa. It contains a number of widely cultivated plants such as Erica, Rhododendron and Pieris.

Like most of Australia's members of the Ericaceae, Astroloma belongs to the subfamily Epacridoideae, which was formerly classified as a separate family, the Epacridaceae. Astroloma consists of about 20 species of mainly small shrubs. All occur only in Australia, mainly in Western Australia but with a few in the south-east of the continent. They occur in a variety of habitats, mainly in woodlands, open forests and heaths.

Astroloma pinifolium
Astroloma pinifolium
Photo: Brian Walters

Astroloma pinifolium is a small shrub up to about 1 metre tall but often smaller. The leaves are narrow, linear shaped and about 10 - 20 mm long, soft to the touch. The flowers are narrow at both ends, tubular in shape and about 20 mm long. They are red or yellow at the base with a greenish tip and occur singly from the leaf axils. Flowering occurs from spring through to summer. The fruit is a small, greenish berry which is edible.

Astrolomas, generally, are not widely cultivated and have proven to be difficult to maintain in the garden. A.pinifolium is no exception but can be grown successfully if given a well drained, moist position in semi shade. It is also a very attractive plant for a container.

Propagation is usually by cuttings of firm current season's growth. A.pinifolium usually gives a better success rate than many other astrolomas. Germination of seed is unreliable.

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