Plant Profiles Eremophilaemu Bush

Eremophila genus has the common name of Emu Bush. The 200 odd species in the genus are all native to mainland Australia. The genus is part of the boobialla family (Myoporaceae). The emu bush is found mostly in semi-arid and arid regions. They are evergreen shrubs or small trees.  Some have felted or resinous elements. The leaves may be smooth-edged or finely toothed. The 2-lipped tubular flowers are lobed and may be white, yellow, violet, pink, red or purple. Some have spotted throats. All species are attractive to birds which play their part by transferring pollen from one flower to another.

The tubular flowers are shaped to guide the bird’s beak into a position that brings the anthers of the flower hard against the bird’s forehead. Pollen is deposited on the forehead and transferred to another flower as the bird feeds and moves on from plant to plant.

Eremophila glabra is available in prostrate or erect forms. It is a variable species and has the common names of common emu-bush or tar bush. It occurs in the arid and semi-arid regions of most of Australia. It is an evergreen shrub with narrow, mid-green to greyish leaves. The leaves have dense hairs giving a silvery appearance. It flowers for much of the year but mainly from June through to March producing yellow to red or green tubular flowers to 5cm long. It will tolerate a wide range of situations provided drainage is adequate. It will grow in seaside gardens if the site is not too exposed. The plant needs at least partial sun, is frost resistant and attractive to honey-eating birds.

A recommended cultivar is Murchison River which is a compact plant with silvery grey foliage and bright red flowers.

Eremophila maculata is a variable species. It is also known as the spotted emu-bush or native fuchsia and is found throughout mainland Australia. It is a compact, dense bush which reaches 2 metres in height. It has grey-green leaves and cream, yellow, orange, pink, red or purplish flowers with cream or yellow spots inside the tube. It is hardy and frost tolerant with a preference for heavier soil types. It likes a sunny position with good drainage and responds well to pruning.

Cultivars include:
*  Aurea – compact form, 1 metre tall with yellow flowers
*  Carmine Star – low shrub, purplish young branches, carmine flowers which have pale interiors with prominent carmine spots.
*  Pink Beauty – grows to 3.5 metres, profuse bluish pink flowers

Eremophila mitchellii has the common names of budda and false sandalwood. This resinous, aromatic shrub has shiny linear leaves and small lightly perfumed flowers. The white to creamy flowers have a spotted throat and appear 2 or 3 in each leaf axil. Flowers are produced in spring with a second flowering in autumn.

Many of these species thrive in alkaline soils. As a general rule, they do not like moist, humid conditions. They like really effective drainage with plenty of air movement and a sunny spot. Vigorous growth can be promoted by regular light pruning.