Thomasia pygmaea

Distribution Map
Family: Malvaceae
Distribution: Woodland and heath on stony sandy loam or clayey sand in the south-west of Western Australia.
Common Name: Tiny thomasia
Derivation of Name: Thomasia; after Peter and Abraham Thomas, botanical collectors.
pygmaea; From Greek pygmaeos, dwarfish, referring to the size of the plant.
Conservation Status: Not currently listed under the EPBC Act*. However, its conservation status is poorly known and it is classified as 3KC- under the ROTAP * system.

General Description:

Thomasia is a genus of about 32 species, all occurring in Western Australia with one (Thomasia petalocalyx) also extending to South Australia and Victoria. Thomasias are generally small to medium shrubs in which the calyx of the flower is more prominent than the petals. The genus is closely related to Guichenotia, Lasiopetalum and Lysiosepalum.

Thomasia pygmaea
Thomasia pygmaea
Photo: Brian Walters

Thomasia pygmaea is a small, spreading shrub about 0.3 metres high by about 0.5 metres wide. The leaves a heart-shaped and about 10-15 mm in diameter. The pink to purple flowers are very conspicuous and unusual, having a 'Chinese lantern' shape. They occur in late winter and spring and and are covered in reddish-tan speckles, which also appear on the leaves and stems.

This species is not often seen in cultivation as it is not readily available. It is best suited to areas with a dry summer climate and can be difficult to maintain for long periods in districts with a humid summer. It requires well drained soils and will grow in full sun or partial shade. It is very suitable for growing in a container.

Propagation can be carried out from seed but seed is rarely available and germination can be unreliable. Cuttings are reported to be slow and difficult to strike.


* 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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