Correa reflexa is an erect and variable species, growing from 0.5 m tall to 1.5 m tall (often seen under 1 m tall) and spreading to about 0.5 metres wide.
It has a large natural distribution in NSW, growing in coastal, tablelands and western slopes divisions, as far west as around Dubbo and Grenfell, as well as Mt Kaputar National Park and Warrumbungle NP. It is not often found in North Coast coastal areas in NSW but is common close to the coast further south. It grows through most of Victoria, except for the far north-west and the coastal areas of South Australia – west to around Port Lincoln and Minnipa. It grows into Queensland, around Jennings, Stanthorpe and Killarney, with a final disjunct occurrence at Crows Nest and further north-west.
It grows in a wide range of habitats on a variety of soils including dry and wet sclerophyll forest as well as coastal heathlands and shrublands and inland rocky shrublands. It is often found on sandy soils but can also be found on alluvium and clay-soils.
The growth habit, foliage shape and flower colour all differ dramatically across the range of this species.
Correa spp. fall into the subgroup of Rutaceae that have simple and opposite leaves, along with 4-petaled flowers. In this species, leaves are to 5 cm long and 3 cm wide, narrow to broad-ovate or oblong, light through to dark-green in colour; with the upper leaf surfaces having prominent bumps or “warts” which are stellate hairs, usualy rough to touch with the under-surface having densely stellate hairs.
Correa spp. often have mostly solitary flowers or up to 10 flowers arranged in cymes. In this species, flower are solitary of in clusters of 3 at the end of lateral branches, pendent and very conspicuous, to 4 cm long and tubular (about 7 mm wide), all green in colour or with the tube red and terminal lobes green and with the stamens and carpels often protruding. Flowering can occur all year around but chiefly April to September.
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 9 mm long and green.
Author’s notes: We will confine our descriptions to a couple of forms of Correa reflexa that are native to the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales.
We have a form of Correa reflexa occurring naturally on our property, Yallaroo. This form develops into a small, mounded shrub that reaches a height of one metre. Leaves are broadly heart-shaped with prominent raised dots. Pairs of leaves enclose the greenish yellow, long narrow, tubular flowers. Blooms are carried in autumn and winter.
The second form comes from areas around the Guyra and Torrington areas in northern New South Wales. This form is identical to the “Yallaroo” form except that the flowers are dull red in colour. Within these populations there are also greenish yellow flowered plants.
In cultivation tip pruning improves the shape of this hardy shrub.
General: An easy-to-grow shrub in most gardens and very useful for gap filling and foliage contrast. It grows best on a soil with reliable drainage, perhaps a slight slope or sandy soil. Can be pruned nicely into a dense rounded shrub. The flowers are attractive and will attract insects and possibly small birds.
May be short-lived in some cases but cuttings can be easily taken. It grows best in some shade with morning sun and protection from late hot afternoon sun.
Correas propagate readily from cuttings. Seed can be used but is much slower and cuttings are relatively easy.
There are two varieties currently reocgnised in NSW:
To those interested in the forms of Correa reflexa, we would recommend Correas Australian Plants for Waterwise Gardens by Maria Hitchcock, a life member of APS. This is a splendid publication covering all aspects of the history, identification, propagation and cultivation of this unique Australian genus.
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.
reflexa – Latin meaning ‘reflexed’ – referring to the nature of the two bracts at the base of each flower which are bent backwards.
This species is not known to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Correa reflexa profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&showsyn=&dist=&constat=&lvl=sp&name=Correa~reflexa
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Hitchcock, M. (2010). Correas – Australian Plants for Waterwise Gardening. Rosenburg Publishing 2010.
Australian National Herbarium – Correa reflexa profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp7/correa-reflexa.html