The plant family Ericaceae (heaths and heathers) is widespread in many parts of the globe, particularly Europe and South Africa. It contains a number of widely cultivated plants such as Erica, Rhododendron and Pieris.
Like most of Australia’s members of the Ericaceae, Prionotes belongs to the subfamily Epacridoideae, which was formerly classified as a separate family, the Epacridaceae. Prionotes consists of the single species, P.cerinthoides, which is endemic to Tasmania.
Prionotes cerinthoidesis a climbing, shrubby plant with wiry stems reaching about 1 metre in length. The glossy leaves are 10-20 mm long, elliptical in shape with toothed margins. The deep pink tubular flowers are up to 25 mm long by about 10-12 mm wide and constricted at the mouth. They occur mainly in summer and autumn. Superficially the flowers are similar to the related Paphia meiniana of north Queensland.
P.cerinthoides is not widely seen in gardens and is extremely slow growing in cultivation where is usually has a low-growing, shrubby growth habit rather than a climbing habit. It prefers a moist, cool position and can be grown in a container.
Propagation should be possible using cuttings of firm current season’s growth. Seed is rarely available, if at all, and germination success is unknown.
Photo: Brian Walters