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 secundum is a small shrub of less than a metre in height with long leaves which wrap around the stems and which overlap (sheathing). The leaves are up to 150 mm long, glossy green and linear to lance-shaped. Pale pink or white, tubular flowers occur in elongated clusters from the ends of the branches, each flower being about 10 mm long. The flowers usually appear in winter and spring and are frequented by honey-eating birds.
This is not a common plant in cultivation but limited experience suggests that it succeeds in a moist, well drained position in semi shade. It is also a very attractive plant for a container.
Propagation is not easy from either seed or cuttings and this is the main reason why the species is not widely grown.
Photo: Brian Walters