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 gilesii is a small, spreading shrub to about 1 metre high by 2 metres across. The leaves are somewhat hairy, up to 60 mm long by 3 mm wide and linear to narrowly elliptical in shape. The mauve to purple flowers are about 30 mm long and somewhat more open than many other emu bushes. They are tubular in shape and occur mainly from winter through to spring. The elongated fruits are about up to 14 mm long.
E.gilesii is best suited to dry climates on a variety of soils which must have good drainage but it will also grow in more humid, temperate areas. The species prefers a situation in full sun and it is tolerent of at least moderate frost. In some areas E.gilesii is regarded as an agricultural weed as it regenerates readily. For example, in south-west Queensland it rapidly recolonises land after clearing of Acacia aneura (mulga) woodland.
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.gilesii strikes reasonably well from cuttings of hardened, current season’s growth but the hairy foliage may rot under misting.
Photo: Hans Griesser