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 oxylepis is one of several species of Darwinia from south-Western Australia known collectively as “Mountain Bells”. Other species in this group include D.leijostyla, D.macrostegia, D.meeboldii and D.squarrosa. Like other members of the group, the 10 (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 a “bell” up to 30mm long.
The species is a small shrub which may reach 1-1.5 metres in height. The leaves are linear, around 10mm long with margins curved inwards (recurved). The bell-shaped bracts are mainly deep red but the uppermost bracts are greenish. They occur in spring and are prominently displayed on the ends of the branches.
D.oxylepis is not well known in cultivation although it has been available (incorrectly) as a form of D.meeboldii. Like other mountain bells it has proved to be a difficult species to maintain for a long period, particularly in areas with a humid summer. It requires excellent drainage and would probably benefit from some protection from direct summer sun.
Seed of Darwinia species, generally, is not easy to germinate. The species can, however, be grown fairly easily from cuttings. Grafting of this and other darwinias species onto the hardy D.citriodora has been very successful and this is the preferred method of propagation in areas where the plant is difficult to maintain.
* 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
Photo: Brian Walters