Asterolasia beckersii

Dungowan Star Bush

Family: Rutaceae

Asterolasia beckersii, formerly known as Asterolasia sp. Dungowan Creek, or Dungowan Star Bush is a very rare plant from an area near Tamworth, New South Wales and is a member of the Rutaceae family.

The Dungowan Star Bush is an erect shrub, reaching a height of two to three metres. The leaves are oblong in shape tapering to the short petiole and have an elliptic lamina. The upper surface is green whilst the lower surface is paler green to fawn. The stems tend to be covered in a rusty brown indumentum. The inflorescence is a terminal umbel of 1-3 flowers coloured white. 

The white flowers are solitary, carried in the leaf axils and appear in spring. Foliage and flowers are similar in appearance to Correa alba. Growth habit, foliage and flowers are attractive features. In our cold climate garden this species has proved to be drought and frost tolerant.

It is known from three populations in the Nundle to Nowendoc area SE of Tamworth.

As far as we know the existing populations are not protected in any reserves. The more gardeners that grow this rare and beautiful shrub will increase its chance of survival.

In 2004, the species was listed as endangered as populations are small with less than 20 individuals in the wild populations.

 

In the garden

Asterolasia  could be grown as a foreground shrub in native garden beds. Perhaps three could be grown close together to form a specimen clump in the smaller garden. For those with balconies, Asterolasia would adapt satisfactorily to life in a container.

Propagation

Although extremely rare, in nature, the Dungowan Star Bush propagates rapidly and enthusiastically from cutting. Root production is as fast as the Correas, its close relatives.

Other information

The wild population occurs in the Tamworth area.

In 1995, Doug Beckers, a NSW National Parks and Wildlife officer, collected a specimen of Asterolasia from the Dungowan Dam area near Nundle. It turned out to be an undescribed species and had been given the informal name of Asterolasia sp. Dungowan Creek

The plant has some similarities to Asterolasia correifolia and Asterolasia hexapetala (from the Warrumbungles). It now has the name Asterolasia beckersii Orme & Duretto following the paper by Orme and Duretto in the journal Telopea (vol 20, pages 165-169, 12th July 2017).

The name honours Doug Beckers for discovering the plant. Fortunately it is in cultivation already with many of us growing it. Like many of the Asterolasias that tend to inhabit creek banks, it likes water.

By Warren and Gloria Sheather, John Nevin