Eremophila denticulata

Fitzgerald Emu Bush or Toothed Eremophila

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Eremophila denticulata will grow into a shrub, with many branches, to 3 metres tall, spreading to just as wide.

It is endemic to the southern area of Western Australia, growing in two disjunct patches; one patch around the Ravensthorpe area – extening north towards Lake King and south towards Hopetoun; then with the second occurrence further east in Cape Arid National Park, north-east of Condingup. These two occurrences comprise two subspecies taxa (see information below).

It is a rare plant in the wild with the subspecies taxa listed as threatened with extinction in the wild at the Commonwealth level.

It grows in mallee shrubland and heathland on river-beds and creeks and associated plains, on sandy or lateritic soils.

Eremophila spp. mostly have simple and alternate leaves (sometimes opposite or whorled). In this species, leaves are slightly sticky to the touch, alternate, lanceolate to elliptic, with distinctive small teeth around the margins (hence the second common name), to about 60 mm long and 15 mm wide; mid-green in colour.

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, tubular flowers are initially yellow but mature to red, to about 30 mm long, produced singuarly in leaf axils and bearing some hairs. The main flowering period is between September and March. Sporadic flowering will occur at other times. The nectar-rich flowers are carried on characteristic “S” shaped pedicels or flower stalks.

The fruit is dry, ovate, to about 15 mm long.

In the garden

A plant that is known to be cultivated. It is a hardy and adpatable species.

Best planted in full sun on a well-draining soil in a dry location. Plants is frequenly wet areas will likely not thrive.

Author’s notes: This species is one of the hardiest eremophilas in our garden. Mature specimens, in our cold climate garden (near Armidale), are about two metres tall. The colourful blooms host constant visits by Eastern Spinebills.

Pruning keeps the plants bushy and blooming bounteously.


Fortunately Eremophila denticulata is one of the easiest Emu Bushes to propagate from cuttings. It would probably be safe to say that there are more specimens in cultivation than ever grew in the wild.

Other information

Eremophila denticulata is known as the Fitzgerald Emu Bush or Toothed Eremophila. The former name refers to the Fitzgerald River National Park, Western Australia, one of the locations where this rare species occurs.

Two subspecies are recognised:

  • subsp. denticulata – western part of the geographic occurrence – has larger leaves.
  • subsp. trisulcata – eastern part of the occurrence – smaller leaves

Both subspecies are listed as threatened with extinction at the Commonwealth level with the category of vulnerable.

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.

denticulata – Latin – dentes / denti meaning “teeth” and –culatus / culata “possessive-of” – referring to the regularly-toothed leaves.

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 denticulata profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/7197

Australian Native Plants Society Australia (ANPSA) – Eremophila denticulata profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/eremophila-denticulata

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