Saturday, July 27, 2013

Richea Dracophylla


This week, I've been picking Richea Dracophylla.  They are an Australian native flower, endemic to Tasmania, although many people say they've never seen them before.  It's such a pity that we are unaware of the natural beauty that occurs in our own part of the world.  These flowers are long lasting, if you pick them just as they are opening.  They are spectacular in a strong, bold sculptural arrangement, but equally at home in a soft mixed bouquet of natives.  I love them, and am so proud to be able to grow them commercially.  

It's tricky taming wild plants though - and these Richea Dracophyllya are definitely wild! They grow in the wet forest and mountain regions of southern Tasmania - you can find them on the slopes of Mount Wellington in Hobart.  They can be quite unruly, and their leaves are a little spiky.  In the wild, they are described as "sparsely branched" but my cultivated specimens are certainly not that!   They are densely branched and thick, requiring gloves to get in and prune them.  They need pruning to produce long upright stems, otherwise the flower spikes can grow an funny angles searching for the sun.

The plants themselves, as with many bush plants, don't really announce themselves until they start to flower.  But the flower spikes really do say "look at me"!  They sometimes have a deep pink blush to the bracts, which then brown and fall off revealing the rice-like flowers underneath.  Their petals are fused together to form a little cap, which falls off and reveals the stamen.  All of this gives the flower a rich textural appearance to add to its strong structural look.



I decided to get up close and personal with these little tiny flowers, using my macro lens.  Lots of fun and such a fascinating look at things that are normally lost to the naked eye.


How cute are the little rice-like flowers peeping out from behind the bracts?!


In this photo you can see that the "rice" are like the petals of the flower that have been fused together - they slip off the flower as it matures, to reveal the stamen.


Little "rice" petals.


A tangle of stamen awash with pollen.


Such a fascinating and beautiful structure!  In my internet browsing about the Richea Dracophylla,  I found a blog by a self-confessed Tasmanian plant nerd who even tried the nectar in his exploration of Tasmanian Bush Tucker.  So apparently, they taste good too!

So I hope I'm doing my bit to spread the word about the beauty of native flowers, and especially Tasmanian ones - they are really exceptional!  I hope you get a chance to enjoy them sometime.







3 comments:

  1. Wow! Thanks for showing us these exquisite plants!

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  2. Fantastic photos, really inspires me to plant some in my rain forest garden.
    are they difficult to grow from seed?
    Thanks
    Chris

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