Thursday, February 2, 2012

Everistia

Everistia vacciniifolia var. nervosa
Family: RUBIACEAE
This local shrub must be Peacehaven Botanic Park’s weirdest-looking specimen. Its intricate zig-zag branchlets curve back from the main stem to form an almost complete tube, down which you can put your hand.

It looks very prickly, and is indeed spiky, but the spikes aren’t very sharp so you won’t suffer if you try it.
It is related to the Canthiums, and has the same rather symmetrical branches. In a garden, it could be used very impressively for a sculptural effect, particularly against a light coloured background wall which would show off the fascinating branching pattern.


There are two varieties. This is the one with the "big" leaves.









In a garden it would grow to be a fairly large shrub, but older plants, such as this one in deep shade of dry rainforest at the Bunya mountains, can become little trees with trunks up to 15cm.


The plant gets very tiny, perfumed, yellow flowers, followed by 5mm fruits. They ripen from orange-red to black, and attract birds.
The plant can still be found close to Toowoomba and Highfields, growing on red soil in places such as Franke Scrub. Its habitat is the dry rainforests and vine thickets, so it has disappeared from much of its original range.

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