Eremophila is a large genus of 214 species, all endemic to Australia. They are generally plants of inland and arid areas and are popular with Australian plant enthusiasts.
Eremophila eriocalyx is a small to medium shrub which may reach 3 metres in height. The leaves are hairy, up to 25 mm long by 2-4 mm wide and linear to narrowly elliptical in shape. The flowers are cream or mauve with densely hairy sepals subtending them. They are about 30 mm long and tubular in shape and occur mainly from winter through to summer. The rounded fruits are about 6 mm in diameter.
E.eriocalyx is not common in cultivation and is best suited to dry climates on a variety of soils which must have good drainage. It will grow in more humid, temperate areas but, like other species with hairy foliage can be subject to fungal diseases. The species should be grown in full sun to minimize fungal problems. It is tolerent of at least moderate frost.
Propagation from seed of Eremophila species is unreliable. A number of treatment methods have been tried including sowing the ripe fruits, sowing of aged and washed fruits and splitting the fruits to extract the seeds prior to sowing. The latter involves splitting the fruits in halves and quarters but some seeds are inevitably damaged during the process.
E.eriocalyx strikes reasonably well from cuttings of hardened, current season’s growth but can be slow to form roots. The hairy foliage may rot under misting.
Photo: Colin Jennings