A semi-wooded to herbaceous perennial suckering shrub that reaches about 1 metre high and can spread to 2 metres across with many stems. It has erect angular soft-woody stems that are sparsely branched and densely hairy.
It is a widespread species, growing on the coastal, tablelands and western slopes of NSW (scarcely found on the Northern Tablelands), west to Griffith and Cobar. It grows as far south as around west of Tuross Head in NSW but is then found disjunctly in Victoria, south to between Traralgon and Bairnsdale. It grows through the coastal and tablelands areas of Queensland to around Rockhampton.
It is often found in open dry sclerophyll woodland and forests as well as heathland and rocky shrubland, usually on sandy soils but sometimes heavier soils.
Dampiera spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, leaves are to 6 cm long, to 2.5 cm wide, and distinctly roughly circular – obovate to elliptic in shape, green-grey to blue-green in colour.
Dampiera spp. have five-petaled flowers, more or less rotate in shape, often with 3 upper larger petals and 2 lower small petals. In this species, flowers are to 2.5 cm across and arranged in clusters of up to 5, on branches emerging from leaf axils; flowers deep purple to mauve in colour with a light yellow centre, appearing chielfy from August to January.
The fruit of Dampiera spp. are nuts. In this species, they are to 5 mm long and ribbed.
This species is quite hardy in a garden situation and is its best in sandy free draining soils where it will sucker freely. It prefers low humidity, is frost tolerant and will grow in spotted shade to full sun.
It is not as reliable in heavy loam/clay soils. (This author has tried many times unsuccessfully).
It is pollinated by insects such as butterflies and bees.
It is good for rockeries and upper slopes where fast drainage can be achieved.
Can be done readily from cuttings.
This species responds rapidly after fire and can be prolific in regenerating landscapes; from the seedbank and root stocks.
Dampiera is a genus of about 65 species – endemic to Australia and occurring in all states. NSW currently has 7 species.
Dampiera – after William Dampier (1651-1715), an English explorer/buccaneer and the regarded as the first European to collect Australian plants for England, in 1699.
purpurea – Latin meaning ‘purple’ – referring to the colour of the flowers.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild in New South Wales and Queensland. It is threatened in Victoria with the category of ‘vulnerable’.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Dampiera purpurea profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Dampiera~purpurea
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Australian National Herbarium – Dampiera purpurea profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2014/dampiera-purpurea.html