Plant Profiles Conostylis

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The Conostylis wildflower is native to Western Australia and is found only in the south west corner of that state. There are some 40 odd species. Some species have plants that are attached to each other by fleshy underground stems while in others the clumps are separate from each other. They grow in a variety of habitats and show a great diversity in form.

The leaves are generally grasslike and may be green, grey-green or whitish. Some are striped, some have hairs while others have neither. The flowers are tubular and bell-shaped, borne on the ends of stems which may be longer or shorter than the general level of the foliage.

Conostylis androstemma grows to 30cm and has round, smooth leaves up to 5cm long. The flowers are up to 5cm long and a pale yellow. The flowers appear individually from among the leaf bases. After a fire, resprouting takes place from the rootstock.

Conostylis aurea (also C.sulphurea) occurs in heaths, woodlands and forests on the south coast. It grows on both sand and gravelly soils. It has flat leaves to 40cm long with hairs on the edges. The flower spike may be 25cm long with golden flowers tinged a purplish red.

Conostylis bealiana is a very decorative, small tufting plant with grass-like leaves which have hairy margins. It is found in mallee heaths. It bears tubular flowers of 3-4cm long on short stems from May to September. The flowers are commonly deep yellow to reddish orange but can be greenish. It is suited to gardens and is an excellent choice as a container plant. It also attracts birds.

Conostylis juncea is found in sandy soils in open woodlands and heaths. The leaves may be round or flat with prominent veins. The inflorescence is a many-flowered, compact head much shorter than the leaves. The hairy flowers are yellow or a greenish yellow. The flowering season is from late winter to spring.

Conostylis seorsiflora is a prostrate form. The mats are connected by underground stems. The long, green leaves are striped and the solitary flowers are around 18mm long and are hairy and yellow.

Conostylis setigera has a number of synonyms including C.aemula, C.assimilis, C.discolor and C.melanopogon. This tufted species has long, flat, striped leaves with hairy margins. The flowers appear as heads of 5 to 10 blooms on a stem shorter than the leaves. The flowers are yellow and hairy but turn more red as they age.

Conostylis terrifolia is a tufted plant with grooved leaves covered with white hairs along the margins. The flower spikes are a similar length to the leaves (6 to17cm) and are yellow with yellow or red hairs.

A few species are cultivated but is not generally popular as a garden specimen at the present time.

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