General Description:

Billardiera is a genus of about 25 species, mainly light climbers or small shrubs. All occur only in Australia with the majority being found in Western Australia. The genus includes species formerly included in the genus Sollya. Relatively few species are cultivated, the best known species being the closely related Billardiera heterophylla and Billardiera fusiformis which were both previously included as varieties of Sollya heterophylla.

Both B.heterophylla and B.fusiformis are moderately vigorous climbing plants which are difficult to distinguish from each other and both are known as ‘Bluebell Creeper’.  They have branches that twine around the stems of other plants with leaves that are bright green and about 50 mm long. The flowers are bell shaped, up to 10 mm long and are usually seen in summer. Flowers are usually deep blue in colour, occurring in clusters of 2 or more, but pink and white forms are known. The greenish-blue fruits are about 20 mm long, cylindrical in shape and contain many sticky seeds.

These two species are well known in cultivation and have been grown grown by both Australian plant enthusiasts and general gardeners. Although climbing plants, they will grow with a shrubby habit to about 1 metre in height if there are no other plants in the vicinity. They are hardy in a range of soils and climates, will tolerate at least moderate frost and can withstand periods of dryness once established. Several websites indicate that the plants contain toxins that can cause skin irritation and nausea, however, these all seem to originate from the one source – see, for example, Eurobodalla Shire Council, (via the Internet Archive) and this problem has not been recorded or verified in most other publications.

Despite their popularity, they have unfortunately become serious environmental weeds in many areas of south-eastern Australia. In South Australia, they are declared weed species that must be controlled and are banned from sale in that State (for further information see this Declared Plant Policy).

There is a supposedly ‘non-invasive’ hybrid on the market called “Edna Walling Blue Bells” – the parentage claimed to be Sollya heterophylla x S.parviflora (under currently accepted taxonomy, that would be Billardiera heterophylla x B.drummondii). Reports indicate that it does not produce viable seeds but whether this is the case in all districts in unclear.

B.heterophylla and B.fusiformis can be grown from seed but cuttings strike readily and this is the preferred method of propagation.


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Blue form of Billardiera heterophylla
Photo: Brian Walters

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White form of Billardiera heterophylla
Photo: Brian Walters


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