A small spreading shrub to about 0.3 metres tall and up to 2 metres wide, creating a moderate low cover.
It is restricted to a small area in NSW in the North West Slopes and Tablelands, specifically the Inverell and Bendemeer areas. It is typically found growing in amongst granite rocks and boulders on shallow soils, in heath and dry sclerophyll woodland.
It is listed as threatened with extinction in the wild.
Leaves are blue-green, simple, mostly linear, to 6 mm long and to 1 mm wide, with a tapered tip; arranged in opposite pairs with each pair at right angles to the last and next pair (decussate). The ends of the branches grow slightly upwards. The foliage is aromatic when crushed.
Flowers are produced in clusters of 1 to 6 at the terminals of the branches, with a tubular shape, somewhat resembling flowers of the related Darwinia genus, but rich-gold / yellow to red in colour. Flowers have a long protruding carpel that extends out from the rest of the flower. Flowers cover the whole top of the plant and have a strong aroma. Flowering occurs in late September to November and can be very showy.
The fruit is a nut, enclosed within the base of the flower (hypanthium) after flowering.
This plant makes a great feature plant in the garden even when not in flower due to its attractive growth habit, leaf colour and its horizontal growth.
It can be pruned if the plant is spreading too widely, but it is advisable not to prune into the lower, older hard wood as it will not reshoot.
Excellent for rockeries and raised beds in full sun, on a sandy to loam soil. This is a very attractive low-growing plant.
Additional notes from Hugh Stacy: It would be constructive for members [and others] presently growing this interesting plant to report their experiences so far. Does it adapt to heavier soils? Can it stand humidity? Will it grow in shade? Is it reasonably drought resistant? Has anyone collected or tried to germinate seed? Is it fanciful to wonder whether some seedlings of these yellow-flowered cutting-grown plants might have red flowers instead? (This happens with Grevillea juniperina, [an unrelated species] but which flowers either golden yellow or red from seed.)
From cuttings with not too much difficulty.
The main form cultivated is Homoranthus prolixus ‘Golditops’ and is a readily available cultivar that is quite popular. This form was collected at Copeland Dam near Inverell by Ian Cox, Ray Brown and Peter Olde, three members of the ANPSA Grevillea Study Group, while looking for a rare Grevillea. This form was collected due to its vivid deep-yellow flowers. The normal type has red to yellow flowers.
‘Golditops’ was propagated and introduced to cultivation by APS NSW member Brian Roach. The author has grown quite a few of these plants over more than 10 years and finds them to be very hardy and virtually maintenance-free plants that are stunning in flower. They grow to a height of 80 cm and spread to about 1.2 m diameter.
At the time of publication, ‘Golditops’ is only available from two nurseries, Westleigh Native Plants and Mole River Native Nursery.
Any other forms of the plant may be hard to source given the species threatened status in the wild.
This species likely regenerates from seed after fire but possibly also has suckering abilities from burnt bases.
Homoranthus is a genus of about 30 species. All are endemic to Australia, occurring in Queensland, NSW and South Australia. NSW currently has 14 species.
Homoranthus – it is reported that this name is derived from the Ancient Greek words homos (ὁμός) meaning ‘same’, ‘uniform’, ‘like’ or ‘similar’ and anthos meaning ‘flower’. However, it may also refer to omor in Greek (ομορ) which means ‘beautiful’, hence translating to ‘beautiful flowers’.
prolixus – Latin word meaning ‘stretched out’ or ‘long’, possibly referring to the long female styles that protrude from the flowers.
‘Golditops’ – named by Brian Roach to reflect the golden-yellow flower colour, which projects horizontally over the plant.
This species is listed as a threatened species at both the State and Commonwealth level with the category of Vulnerable.
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles – Homoranthus prolixus profile page https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10411
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Homoranthus prolixus profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Homoranthus~prolixus
Wikipedia – Homoranthus prolixus profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homoranthus_prolixus