Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hedge Saltbush

Rhagodia spinescens
Here’s yet another saltbush which is fruiting in Irongate Reserve at present.
It’s a species which is widespread in Australia, and often used in landscape gardening.
It’s a very dense little shrub with tiny blue-grey leaves and red bird-attracting fruits. It grows somewhat less than waist high, and as its lower branches tend to lie down and develop roots wherever they touch the ground, it can spread some distance, and is easy to reproduce. It grows so densely (if planted in full sun) that it can even smother out Kikuyu grass!

It makes a particularly good, frost and drought hardy hedge, and as also strongly fire-resistant, it is a plant that we Australians should use more often in our gardens where bushfire is a risk.
Despite its botanical name, it’s not spiny. “Spinescens” refers to its habit of shutting down the ends of the twiggy branches in a drought, losing the leaves and giving the bush a spiny appearance. If they do this in a garden, it’s easy enough to give them a trim and some water.

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