Eremophila microtheca is a small, compact shrub reaching a height of 1.5 metres with a similar spread.
It is endemic to Western Australia, where it is rare, growing close to the west coast north of Perth, with records south and north of Geraldton, as far south as near Beekeepers Nature Reserve and as far north as just to the north-west of Kalbarri National Park.
It grows on sand dunes and saline flats very close to the coast, in heathland and mallee-shrubland, often with Melaleuca spp.
It is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild.
Eremophila spp. mostly have simple and alternate leaves (sometimes opposite or whorled). In this species, leaves are fine and narrow, linear to almost cylindrical, to about 15 mm longand only 1 mm wide, hairy when young and becoming hairless with age, dull deep green in colour; and giving off an odour, when crushed, which may be objectionable to some gardeners.
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 tubular, about 30 mm long by 15 mm wide, with spots in the corolla-throat, produced in leaf axils, blue to purple in colour and bearing a superficial appearance to the blooms of Prostantheras and Westringias (especially when taken in with the foliage); blooms are carried from late spring to early summer.
The fruit is dry, oval-shaped and wrinkled, to 4 mm long, comparitively smaller than some other species.
Eremophila microtheca is a hardy shrub that could be incorporated, away from the edge, into native garden beds. Consider planting away from pathways as the foliage-odour can be offensive.
It is known to be cultivated and sold, despite it being rare in the wild.
Likely does best on a well-drained sandy soil in full sun.
Tip prune occasionally for a denser shrub and for better flowering.
Propagate from cuttings.
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.
microtheca – Greek – micros (μικρός) – meaning “small” and –theca refers to “box” or “case” in Ancient Greek – referring to the small fruit of the species. The type was collected at Port Gregory, Murchison River originally known as Pholidia microtheca and named in 1870. The second image is an early drawing, of the species, by Baron von Mueller.
This species is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild in Western Australia, at the State level, with the category of Priority 4 (rare, near-threatened).
Western Australian Herbarium (1998–). Florabase—the Western Australian Flora – Eremophila microtheca profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/7241