Eremophila glabra

Distribution Map
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Distribution: Dry areas of all mainland states.
Common Name: Common emu bush.
Derivation of Name: Eremophila...from Greek, eremos, desert and phileo, to love, ie "desert loving", referring to the habitat of many of the species.
glabra....from Latin, glaber, without hairs or smooth surfaced, referring (incorrectly in some forms) to the hairless leaves.
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Eremophila is a large genus of 214 species, all endemic to Australia. They are generally plants of inland and arid areas and are popular with Australian plant enthusiasts.

Eremophila glabra

Eremophila glabra
Eremophila glabra
Top: A typical red-flowered form; Bottom: The Murchison River form

Photos: Hans Griesser

Eremophila glabra is a very complex species with many different forms. The species ranges from completely prostrate forms to shrubs up to 1.5 metres high. Leaves may be glabrous (without hairs) or greyish and conspicuously hairy. The flowers also vary considerably and may be green, yellow, orange or red. Flowering occurs from late winter to summer.

Many forms of this species are in cultivation, eg:

  • Prostrate form - a spreading shrub to 0.3 m and a spread of 1-2 metres. Yellow flowers. This is probably the hardiest form and is excellent for landscaping.
  • "Murchison River" form - attractive silvery foliage with bright red flowers. This forms a shrub to about 1 metres high.

Eremophila glabra
Eremophila glabra
A yellow-flowered, prostrate form of Eremophila glabra
Photos: Brian Walters

The species is best suited to dry climates but has also been successfully cultivated in warm, temperate areas. It should be grown in an open, sunny position with good drainage. The species is tolerant of at least moderate frost and, once established, tolerates extended dry periods. Forms with hairy leaves can be prone to fungal attack in humid areas.

Propagation from seed of Eremophila species is unreliable. A number of treatment methods have been tried including sowing the ripe fruits, sowing of aged and washed fruits and splitting the fruits to extract the seeds prior to sowing. The latter involves splitting the fruits in halves and quarters but some seeds are inevitably damaged during the process.

Most forms of E.glabra strike readily from cuttings.

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