Darwinia carnea

Distribution Map
Family: Myrtaceae
Distribution: Stony, lateritic soils in a restricted area in south Western Australia.
Common Name: Mogumber Bell.
Derivation of Name: Darwinia; after Dr Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin.
carnea; flesh coloured, referring to the colour of the floral bracts.
Conservation Status: Listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act* (ie. facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as determined in accordance with prescribed criteria). Classified as 2E under the ROTAP * system.

General Description:

Darwinia is a genus of about 70 species which are found only in Australia. The majority are found in the south of Western Australia.

Darwinia carnea is known from only a few locations with fewer than 10 plants surviving in the wild. Grazing and agriculture have brought this species to the verge of extinction. The species is listed in the gazetted rare flora of Western Australia and is specifically protected by legislation.

Darwinia carnea
Darwinia carnea
Photo: Brian Walters

Darwinia carnea is one of the "bell-flowered" members of the genus and is the only one of this type to occur outside of the Stirling Ranges near Albany on the south coast. Like other members of the group, the 8 (approx) small flowers are enclosed within large bracts which give the bell shape. Thus the "flower" is really a cluster of small flowers enclosed within the "bell".

The species is a small to medium shrub. One form reaches about 2 metres in height while another form is low and spreading and less than 0.5 metres high. Leaves are linear and up to 15mm long. The bell-shaped bracts are commonly pale green in colour but may have a reddish tinge. They occur in late spring to early summer on the ends of the branches.

D.carnea is reasonably well known in cultivation despite its rarity in the wild. However it has proved to be a difficult species to maintain for a long period. It requires excellent drainage and would probably benefit from some protection from direct summer sun. There is a hybrid in cultivation which appears to have D.carnea as one parent. This also has large, green bell flowers at the ends of its branches and it has proved to be a much more reliable species in cultivation.

Seed of this species is unlikely to be available but germination is likely to be difficult in any case. The species can be grown fairly easily from cuttings. Grafting of this and other Darwinia species onto the hardy D.citriodora has been very successful and this is the preferred method of propagation.


* EPBC Act = Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  ROTAP = Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (Briggs and Leigh, 1988)
  For further information refer the Australian Plants at Risk page


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