Friday, March 11, 2011

Slug Herb

Aneilema acuminatum
What dreadful common names have been given to some of our native plants!
This dainty local plant is a relative of the wandering jew (Tradescantia species). Unlike that plant, which has become a serious environmental weed, this is an inoffensive little thing, common in our local rainforests, and useful for an authentic touch in a rainforest garden.
Each of the flower heads, on delicate foot-high upright stems, can produce several dozen little white three-petalled flowers, of which only one or two open at a time.
We usually see it as an understorey plant, wandering through the mulch of rainforests, never growing strongly enough to crowd out other plants. It flowers in dense shade, the white flowers gleaming in the shadows, and this would probably be the best garden use for it. However it can be grown in places where it receives full sun for part of the day, provided it is well-mulched and receives adequate water. In that situation, the leaves form a dense summer groundcover. They are knocked back by frost, but mulch protects the roots, so the plant recovers as soon as warmer weather comes around.
Like all our dry rainforest plants, it is drought hardy. If grown on Toowoomba redsoil, the natural rainfall (or lack of it) is enough to keep it flourishing.
It is said to be a magnet for snails and slugs, which is a good reason not to waste water on it, as these pests thrive best where foliage is wet.

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