Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Urn Heath

Melichrus urceolatus

This is a very fierce little winter-flowing shrub, which grows on some of our rather skeletal red soils. Those dagger-sharp leaves are just as unfriendly as they look, which makes this plant a popular nesting site for small birds. It usually grows to about waist height.

If the flowers of this bird-friendly shrub are not eaten by rosellas, are followed by small greenish-white succulent fruits which are eaten by many kinds of birds.

It has a lignotuber, which means that it can survive bushfires. The stems and branches burn, but it regrows from its rootstock afterwards. Shrubs with lignotubers in garden situations like to be pruned to the base every every half a dozen years or so. They respond by producing more stems and generally thickening up.

Urn heath is difficult to propagate from seed or cuttings, so value it if it grows naturally on your land.

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