Philotheca is a genus of about 45 species, all of which occur only in Australia. The genus includes most species previously classified as Eriostemon, the only species remaining in Eriostemon being E.australasius and E. banksii. Philotheca trachyphylla was previously known as Eriostemon trachyphyllus. Philotheca is closely related to the well-known Boronia, the most obvious distinction being the presence of 4 petals in Boronia and 5 in Philotheca. The leaves are also opposite in Boronia and alternate in Philotheca.
Philotheca trachyphylla is a medium to large shrub usually up to 2 metres high but can reach 6 to 7 metres. Leaves are slightly warty, oblong to elliptic, about 40-50 mm long by 7-8 mm wide and terminating in a short point. The waxy, white flowers are seen from late winter through to late spring and are about 12 to 15 mm in diameter. They occur in the leaf axils singly or in clusters of 3.
This is a profusely flowering species but despite being a very desireable garden plant it is not often cultivated, mainly due to difficulties in propagation. Limited experience indicates it to be hardy in a well drained moist soil in a sunny or semi-shaded position.
In common with most members of the Rutaceae, propagation of P.trachyphylla from seed is difficult. Unfortunately propagation from cuttings is also proven to be extremely difficult.
Photo: Brian Walters