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 latrobei is a small to medium shrub to 2 metres high (occasionally taller). Several subspecies are recognised. The leaves are linear or oblong 10 – 90 mm long by 1 – 5 mm wide with an obtuse or acute apex and usually with thickened margins. The flowers are red to purplish red (occasionally yellow), about 15 – 30 mm long and tubular in shape. They occur singly in the leaf axils and are seen from winter through to early summer. The fruits are egg shaped and beaked at the tip.
E.latrobei is well known in cultivation and several forms are grown by enthusiasts. It 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, except for a grey foliaged form which can be damaged.
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.latrobei has proven to be difficult to strike from cuttings and grafting onto a Myoporum rootstock may be a more reliable propagation method.
Photo: Colin Jennings