The plant family Ericaceae (heaths and heathers) is widespread in many parts of the globe, particularly Europe and South Africa. It contains a number of widely cultivated plants such as Erica, Rhododendron and Pieris.
Like most of Australia’s members of the Ericaceae, Dracophyllum belongs to the subfamily Epacridoideae, which was formerly classified as a separate family, the Epacridaceae. Dracophyllum is a genus of about 30 species with five occurring in Australia.
Dracophyllum milliganii is a shrub of two different forms – a low sub-shrub up to 20 cm high in alpine areas and a tall shrub to 4 metres in wet forests of Tasmania’s south-west. The lance-shaped leaves are strap-like to about 60-70 cm long in alpine forms and up to a metre or more in the taller form. They have sheathing bases (the leaves wrap around the stems). The white flowers occur in clusters at the top of the stems in summer.
Like its mainland relative (Dracophyllum secundum), D.milliganii is not common in cultivation and may be difficult to maintain in lowland gardens.
Little information is available on propagation but, like D.secundum, propagation is likely to be difficult by both seed or cuttings.
Photo: Harry Loots