Correa alba is a rounded, dense shrub, growing to a heaight of about 2 metres by up to 1 metre wide.
It has a purely coastal occurrence in NSW, growing very close to or on the beach or rocky headlands, south from Port Stephens, in patchy occurrences south along the coast. It has a patchy distribution along most of the Victorian coast and it is found along the north and east coasts of Tasmania as well as the islands of Bass Strait. It also grows along the South Australian coast from Mt. Gambier to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.
It typically grows in coastal heathland and shrubland, on sand dunes to rocky headlands and cliffs, close to the coast.
Correa spp. fall into the subgroup of Rutaceae that have simple and opposite leaves, along with 4-petaled flowers. In this species, leaves are almost circular, greyish-green with a rounded end, to 4 cm long and 3 cm wide and with undersides very hairy.
Correa spp. often have mostly solitary flowers or up to 10 flowers arranged in cymes. In this species, the flowers are not typical tubular Correa flowers in that they are more flattened and star-shaped with 4 white petals spread out rather than fused into a tube; produced solitarily or in small clusters in leaf axils. They are usually white with some forms having blooms with a pink tinge. The main flowering period covers autumn and winter with sporadic flowering at other times.
The fruit are composed of small woody cocci (segments) and is referred to as a schizocarpic-capsule with the cocci spliting apart. In this species, they are to 7 mm long and green.
Author’s notes: Our specimens have proved to hardy, free flowering, frost and drought resistant in a cold-climage garden near Armidale. One plant is growing on the south side of our house and during winter is in complete shade for almost three months. In other words, this species is ideal for very shady areas. In our cold climate garden, specimens reach a height of about two metres.
This is a very easy plant to grow in coastal NSW and further inland. It is usually hardy once established with little maintenance required. Prune after flowering to encourage a denser plant. Grow on a sandy soil in full sun for best results. Give some water in very dry times.
Can be grown as a hedge or topiary. It has been used in large coastal landscapes for a good amount of time. It can handle salt spray so useful in beachside properties etc. Can also be grown in a pot.
Propagate from cuttings. Seed can also be used but is slower and cuttings strike relatively easily.
Correa alba has an interesting botanical history. The species was originally collected in Port Jackson probably by Sir Joseph Banks who sent seeds to a London nursery. They raised plants in 1793. A description and illustration (see thumbnail) appeared in The Botanist’s Repository for New and Rare Plants published in 1798. Another Correa alba illustration appeared in The Botanical Cabinet published by another London nursery in 1818.
Correa is a genus of about 11 species, endemic to Australia, occurring in all states except the Northern Territory. NSW currently has 5 species.
Most correas would be killed in fire and regenerate from seed after fire.
Correa – named after Jose Correia de Serra (1750-1823), a Portugese abbot, scientist, politician and polymath who was friends with both Joseph Banks and Thomas Jefferson.
alba – Latin meaning ‘white’ – referring to the flower colour of the species.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Correa alba profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Correa~alba
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Gardening with Angus – Correa alba profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/correa-alba-white-correa/
Hitchcock, M. (2010). Correas – Australian Plants for Waterwise Gardening. Rosenburg Publishing 2010.