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 maculata is probably the most common species both in the wild and in cultivation. It is usually a shrub to about 1 metre in height but occasionally grows taller. Two varieties are recognised; var.maculata and var.brevifolia. The most obvious difference between these varieties is the foliage, with var.brevifolia having much shorter leaves (<10mm) than var.maculata (up to 50 mm long).
Flowers occur in the leaf axils and are tubular in shape to about 25 mm long. Flower colour is variable and may be pink, mauve, red, orange or yellow, often with a pale, spotted throat. Flowering occurs mainly through winter and spring but some flowers may also be seen at other times. Fruits consist of four chambers each containing one or more seeds.
E.maculata is widely cultivated in many areas and, although best suited to dry climates, can be successfully grown in more humid areas. The var.brevifolia is, however, difficult to maintain in such areas. The species prefers soils which are alkaline to mildly acidic and well drained. Full sun is preferred and, once established, the plant tolerates extended dry periods. It is also tolerant 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.
Most forms of E.maculata strike readily from cuttings of hardened, current season’s growth.
Red form of Eremophila maculata
Photo: Brian Walters
Yellow form of Eremophila maculata
Photo: Brian Walters
Images of all Eremophila species, hybrids and cultivars can be seen in the Eremophila Study Group’s Eremophila Image Database