Eremophila calorhabdos

Red Rod

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Eremophila calorhabdos is a shrub to 2 metres tall, with an upright growth habit, usually with a multiude of narrow erect stems.

It is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia, centred around the Norseman-area; extending east to near Dundas Nature Reserve, south towards Esperance, west towards Lake King and north towards Jilbadji Nature Reserve.

It is typically found on undulating sand plains in dry scerlophyll (mallee) shrubland and heathland.

Eremophila spp. mostly have simple and alternate leaves (sometimes opposite or whorled). In this species, leaves alternate to spiral; somewhat densely-clustered along stems (which are covered in dense white hairs); to 25 mm long and 12 mm wide, green to blue/grey-green in colour, elliptic to ovate with fine teeth along the margins and held somewhat rigidly above the horizontal.

Eremophila spp. have 5-merous flowers with the 5 petals usually fused into a tube (tubulate to campanulate) with 5 petal-lobes (often described as 2-lipped with 3 upper lobes and 2 lower), occurring in small-numbered clusters per leaf axil. Flowers are often curved. In this species, flowers are produced one per leaf axils but with a leafy-racemose result; buds are orange-yellow then change to carmine/magenta (purple-red-pink) when the flowers open; flowers tubular to around 35 mm long by 10 mm wide; appearing from winter to summer. Honeyeaters visit the blooms.

The fruit is dry, ovate, to about 8 mm long.

In the garden

This is a beautiful emu bush with its columns of flowers. It has a history of being cultivated in coastal environments. Reportedly, it may be short-lived if humidity is too high but well worth trying in any location.

Plant on a well-drained soil in full sun for best results. It will likely suffer on clay-soils.

The visual impact of native cottage gardens and rockeries would benefit from the inclusion of a couple of Red Rods.

Tip pruning will encourage dense growth and reduce the risk of plants becoming straggly.


Propagate from cuttings. It is worth noting that most Eremophilas, Red Rod included, produce roots rapidly from cuttings.

Other information

Eremophila can regenerate from the seedbank after fire with some plants able to reshoot from stem buds as well as sucker from basal areas.

Eremophila is a substantial Australian genus of around 220 species with, likely, many undescribed species. Most species are found in Western Australia and other Australian arid zones. They occur in all states except Tasmania. NSW currently has 21 species with some subspecies taxa.

See our 2023 study group article on this genus:              https://resources.austplants.com.au/stories/why-do-eremophila-have-resin/

Eremophila – from Greek Erimos (ερημος) meaning “desert” and –philos (φίλος) referring to “friend” or “beloved” – referring to the mostly desert habitats of these plants.

calorhabdos – from the Greek kalo / kalos (καλός) – meaning “beautiful” and –rhabdos (ῥάβδος) (pronounced rav-thos in Greek) – meaning “rod” or “wand” – capturing the beautiful appearance of leafy flower-racemes of this species. The species was named in 1905 from material collected near Coolgardie, Western Australia.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Western Australian Herbarium. Florabase—the Western Australian Flora – Eremophila calorhabdos profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile.php/7187

Gardening with Angus – Eremophila calorhabdos profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/eremophila-calorhabdos-emu-bush/

Australian National Herbarium – Eremophila calorhabdos profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2012/eremophila-calorhabdos.html

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke