Pimelea is a genus of about 80 species, most of which are Australian but some also occur on islands to the north and in New Zealand. Most are shrubs but some annual species are found in tropical areas. The name “rice flower” has been applied to many members of the genus. P.ferruginea is probably the best known species in the genus and is widely cultivated both in Australia and overseas.
The “pink rice flower” is a low, densely growing shrub which rarely exceeds 1 metre in height by 1-2 metres in width. The foliage is deep green in colour with the oval, 12 mm long leaves arranged in two pairs of opposite rows (decussate). The small flowers occur in clusters at the ends of the branches and are very conspicuous. They are generally bright pink but some deeper coloured forms are in cultivation and white forms are also known. The flowers are seen from early spring through to summer.
Despite its natural habitat in a dry summer climate, P.ferruginea has been successfully cultivated in more humid areas although it cannot be regarded as reliable in sub-tropical and tropical districts. It will grow in a range of soil types as long as the drainage is reasonable. The plant is well suited to coastal gardens and will grow in full sun or partial shade.
P.ferruginea may be grown from seed but germination is unreliable. Cuttings of firm, current season’s growth usually strike reliably and this is the required method of propagation for particular colour forms.
Photo: Brian Walters