Botany

Plant Profiles Dampiera



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The Australian native plant, Dampiera, is endemic to Australia. It gets its name from the British explorer, William Dampier (1652-1715), who sailed to Australia during the 17th century. There are over 60 species of Dampiera which belong to the Goodeniaceae family. Most are perennial herbs or small shrubs. Most are found in the southwest of Western Australia. The leaf shape and arrangement is variable and the flowers are irregularly shaped and may be borne singly or in clusters. With few exceptions, flower colour is blue.

Dampiera rosmarinifolia or Rosemary Dampiera is a low shrub (0.5m) but spreads to three metres. It has leaves like the rosemary herb hence the name. The flowers appear as dense spikes of light blue or mauve pink from August to November. It does best in a sunny, well-drained situation. It may suckers lightly with new plants appearing sometimes quite some distance from the parent plant. The Rosemary Dampiera is resistant to frost.

Dampiera diversifolia (diversifolia = leaves of more than one kind) is endemic to south-western Western Australia. It is a very showy, prostrate groundcover which may reach 1 metre in diameter. The short, dense branches produce a compact backdrop for the crown of small flowers which are produced in spring and summer. The flowers have a depth of colour that adds to their beauty.

The profuse display of masses of deep blue flowers of around 1cm diameter is an attractive part of the spring wildflower displays. The leaves are lance-shaped with smooth, slightly toothed basal leaves. Prostrate stems have smaller leaves which are narrow and not toothed. This variety is resistant to frost. It is suited to range of conditions although it prefers a well-drained site with some protection from strong winds. Under good conditions, it will sucker readily. Any tendency to die back at the centre can be counteracted by the application of a general fertiliser in spring and autumn.

Dampiera teres (Terete-leaved Dampiera) is also endemic to Western Australia. It is an ornamental dwarf shrub, growing to 0.5 metres high with a spread of 1 metres. The flowers are usually blue-mauve, or can be pink. The flowers are produced in spikes mainly from August to January. It likes a sunny, well-drained position. Dampiera teres is tolerant of frost and suited to areas which may experience drought conditions. It responds well to hard pruning. It can sucker lightly.

Propagation of dampiera plants is by stem or leaf cuttings, or by division of suckering species. These are difficult plants to germinate by seed. There are now several species commonly cultivated and new cultivars are appearing all the time.

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