Thursday, July 5, 2012

Frosty Bursaria

Bursaria incana
The delightful thing about living in this climate is that winter has hardly time to get started before we see our first signs of spring.
The early orchids are out already, and the wonga vines are flowering gloriously .

This lovely bursaria, growing wild near the Bunya Mountains,  had a glowing halo of flowers last week.

 Native bees are said to love these flowers, but it was so cold when we came across this plant that few insects had ventured out.


Here’s a specimen growing at Peacehaven Botanic Park. At five years old it’s already a handsome small tree, with a dense green canopy.

“Incana” is latin for frost, and the name is a reference to the white-backed leaves of this plant. They  distinguish it from its later-flowering cousin, the sweet bursaria, Bursara spinosa (See article April 2009) . Despite its name, it might be killed by frosts in its early years, though it tolerates them once it has gained a bit of height.
Some people call this tree “prickly pine” which seems a bit unfair. The suggestion of prickliness puts some people off growing it, yet the plant outgrows its juvenile prickly stage in just a few years.
This is a very desirable garden plant, attracting birds and butterflies. It can be left to grow into its natural shape, making a good windbreak, but is also amenable to pruning so can be trimmed up for a small shade tree, or kept low, as a hedge.

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