Asterolasia beckersii, formerly known as Asterolasia sp. Dungowan Creek (Dungowan Star Bush) is a very rare plant from an area near Tamworth, New South Wales.
In 2004, the species was listed as threatened with extinction in NSW, with the category of endangered as populations are small with less than 20 individuals in the wild.
It is known from three populations in the Nundle to Nowendoc area of NSW, SE of Tamworth. It is found in creekline / riparian corridors growing underneath Casuarina cunninghamiana.
It is an erect shrub, reaching a height of 3 metres with spread to 2 metres. The stems tend to be covered in a rusty brown indumentum of stellate hairs.
Asterolasia spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, they are oblong in shape tapering to the short petiole and have an elliptic lamina, to 4 cm long by 1.2 cm wide. The upper surface is green whilst the lower surface is paler green to fawn.
Asterolasia spp. have 5-merous flowers with a higher number of stamens, which can be produced solitariily or in axillary or terminal cymose to umbel-like clusters. In this species, the white flowers are solitary, 5-petaled and carried in the leaf axils, appearing in spring. Foliage and flowers are somewhat similar in appearance to the related Correa alba.
The fruit is a cluster of cocci (mericarps), which can almost be thought of as a very small woody mandarin-likely structure, where each segment or coccus splits off with a seed. The cocci are covered in stellate hairs and have a small beak, to about 2 mm long.
Due to the very rare status of this species, plants may be difficult to source. However, it is known to be cultivated by APS members and it is reported that plants can be sourced from Bilby Blooms Nursery.
Asterolasia beckersii could be grown as a foreground shrub in native garden beds. Multiple specimens could be grown close together to form a specimen clump in the smaller garden. For those with balconies, this and other Asterolasia species would adapt satisfactorily to life in a container.
Growth habit, foliage and flowers are attractive features. In our cold climate garden this species has proved to be drought and frost tolerant.
Grow on a well-drained soil but it does prefer some additional watering. Best grown in a semi-shady spot – not in western sun.
Can be lightly pruned after flowering to create a dense bush.
Although extremely rare, in nature, the Dungowan Star Bush propagates rapidly and easily from cutting.
This species has some similarities to Asterolasia correifolia and Asterolasia hexapetala (from the Warrumbungles).
Species of this genus are likely killed by fire and regenerate from the seed bank. Suckering may be possible.
Asterolasia is a genus of 19 species – all endemic to Australia, occurring in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. NSW currently recognises 11 species.
Asterolasia – from Greek Asteri (αστέρι) – meaning “star” and lasia from lasios (λάσiος) – meaning “hairy” – referring to the star-shaped hairs on the stems and leaves of these species.
beckersii – in honour of Doug Beckers, a long-term employee with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, who discovered and collected the species.
This species is listed as being threatened with extinction in the wild with the category of Endangered at the State level and Critically Endangered at the Commonwealth level.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Asterolasia beckersii profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Asterolasia~beckersii
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened species profiles – Asterolasia beckersii profile page https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10872