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Olearia erubescens (DC.) Dipp.

Modern name

Olearia erubescens (Sieber ex DC.) Dippel


Eurybia erubescens DC.; O. myrsinoides Hort., not (Labill.) F. Muell. ex Benth.

An evergreen shrub 3 to 5 ft high; young shoots often long and slender, covered like the undersurface of the leaves with a pale, brownish, shining down. Leaves alternate, scarcely stalked, stiff and leathery, narrowly oval or oblong, pointed, tapered or rounded at the base, conspicuously toothed; 12 to 112 in. long, 14 to 34 in. wide, dark glossy green and glabrous above. Inflorescence branched, up to 3 in. long and carrying several flower-heads, or often unbranched and only one. Flower-heads 1 in. wide, with three to five pure white ray-florets and six to eight yellow disk-florets in the centre. They open in May and June. The inflorescences come from the leaf-axils of the previous year and form altogether an elegant, densely flowered, cylindrical panicle 1 to 112 ft long. Gard. Chron., ser. 3, Vol. 45 (1909), fig. 92, as O. myrsinoides.

Native of Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales; already cultivated at Kew in the 1840s. It needs wall protection there although, in a well-sheltered spot like the foot of a house wall facing south, it may pass through several winters without serious injury. When seen at its best it is a charming shrub and is admirable for the south and west. It has been much confused in gardens with O. myrsinoides (q.v.), but is more ornamental and is quite distinct in its much larger, pointed, more conspicuously toothed leaves and its larger flower-heads with as many as five spreading pure white florets, plus six to ten yellow disk-florets. It is mainly represented in cultivation by the following variety:

var. ilicifolia (DC) Bean Eurybia erubescens var. ilicifolia DC. – Leaves less spiny than in the type, larger, 3 in. long, 1 in. wide. The inflorescence is larger and bears more numerous flowers, and the plant is more vigorous.

O. myrsinoides (Labill.) Benth. Aster myrsinoides Labill. – A low and straggling or densely bushy shrub; young shoots angled, silvery, with a scale­like covering like the undersurface of the leaves. Leaves alternate, mostly obovate, sometimes narrowly oval, tapered at the base, rounded at the apex, toothed; 14 to 12 in. long, 18 to 14 in. wide, shining green and glabrous above. Flower-heads three to five together in axillary clusters, borne on stalks up to 1 in. long; ray-florets white, two or three to each head; disk-florets two to five, yellow. Labill., Nov. Holl. Plant. Specim., Vol. 2, t. 202, as Aster myrsinoides.

Native of Tasmania and Victoria. In shape and size the leaves often resemble those of Myrsine africana. It is possible that the true plant is not in cultivation. What has been grown under the name is O. erubescens, a very distinct thing.

O. persoonioides (DC.) Benth. Eurybia persoonioides DC. – A shrub up to 10 ft high. Leaves elliptic to obovate, blunt, leathery, entire, shining green above, white or pale fawn with silky tomentum beneath, 12 to 2 in. long, 14 to 1 in. wide. Flower-heads in small pedunculate groups from the axils of the upper leaves, forming terminal clusters. Ray-florets three to four, white. Curtis, Endemic Fl. Tasmania, Part I, No 13.

A species endemic to Tasmania. It has been introduced recently, but is not yet established in cultivation and may prove to be of little value as an ornamental.

O.obcordata (Hook, f.) Benth. Eurybia obcordata Hook. f. – A straggling shrub, distinguished at once by its small, cuneate leaves with entire margins and truncate, bluntly three- to five-toothed apex, 14 to 38 in. long. Curtis, Endemic Fl. Tasmania, Part I, No 17.

An endemic of the mountains of Tasmania. Of recent introduction and still untested.

O. speciosa Hutch. – A straggling shrub 3 to 4 ft high. Leaves alternate, stout and leathery, narrow-oblong or oval, margins recurved and toothed, sometimes coarsely and irregularly, up to 412 in. long and 112 in. wide, brown felted beneath. Flower-heads borne about midsummer in rather lax corymbs 4 to 8 in. wide, each head about 1 in. wide, borne on a stalk up to 2 in. long. Ray-florets five or six, white, 16 in. long, tapering towards both ends, disk-florets about twice as many, yellow. Outer bracts woolly, forming an involucre 13 in. wide. Bot. Mag., t. 8118.

Native of Australia (Victoria); introduced to Kew shortly before 1883. It is very tender, but is cultivated outdoors at Tresco in the Isles of Scilly.

O. tasmanica W. M. Curtis O. alpina (Hook, f.) W. M. Curtis, not Buchan.; O. persoonioides var. alpina Hook. f. – This closely resembles O. persoonioides, but is a smaller, bushier shrub up to 3 ft high, with the leaves reddish brown on the lower surface and the flower-heads borne singly in the axils of the upper leaves; ray-florets five to six, white. Curtis, Endemic Fl. Tasmania, Part I, No 15, as O. alpina.

An endemic of Tasmania, found, according to Dr Curtis, at altitudes of around 3,500 ft, but lower near the west and south-west coasts. The late Lord Talbot de Malahide considered this to be probably the best of the endemic olearias of Tasmania, judging from the wild plants, but it was introduced too recently (around 1965) for any assessment to be made of its value in gardens.



Other species in the genus