Lissanthe strigosa is a small, upright shrub reaching a height of 1 metre, with a spread of 1 metre.
It is a very common shrub in some habitats, growing along the entirety of the NSW coast, tablelands and western slopes subdivisions. It grows in south-east Queensland with a disjunction to north of Injune. It grows through most of Victoria and into South Australia, including Kangaroo Island, as far west as Port Lincoln. It also grows in the general eastern half of Tasmania.
It is often found growing in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest as well as shrublands and heathlands. It can often be found inland regenerating in paddock-areas near bushland, sometimes in large numbers (eg: Wombeyan Caves-area of NSW).
Lissanthe spp. have simple, small and stiff leaves which are also prickly, with parallel venation obvious on the undersurface – a feature of many plants in this family; to 15 mm long and about 2 mm wide, dark green with a sharp point and paler beneath. New growth is much more lighter-green. Leaves are very heavily-clustered along stems.
Lissanthe spp. have small and tubular white-pink to cream flowers with 5-lobes. In this species, flowers are small, to about 5 mm long, pink or white and sweetly scented; produced in the leaf axils in clusters oif up to 10. Good autumn and winter rain usually triggers profuse spring flowering.
The fruit is a drupe (equivalent to a peach or plum but much smaller in this case). In this species, they are about 3 mm long and rounded, and reportedly edible.
Peach Heath although common in the wild is rarely seen in cultivation. Not a lot of information regarding cultivation can be found online. This is a pity because both flowers and fruits are attractive features. It is likely difficult to propragate and cultivate.
With some tender loving care, Lissanthe strigosa would become a dense, many-flowered shrub. In the wild, plants are not at their best with dead branches and sparse foliage in a lot of cases. However, very attractive plants can be seen in the flowering season. Plants in the wild often always have lichen on the braches as well.
Lissanthe strigosa is one of a number of small shrubs that have regenerated on our property Yallaroo east of Armidale, after sheep were removed.
Note: The ‘epacrids’ or ‘Australian Heaths’ (meaning family Ericaceae subfam. Epacridoideae (previously family Epacridaceae) are a notoriously difficult group of plants to grow in Australian gardens. They are very attractive but do not usually survive well in garden conditions. This is likely due to specific relationships that this plant group has with mycorrhizal fungi (root-fungi) along with difficulties in re-creating their natural specific habitats (such as wet sandstone heathland) in gardens. Native nurseries continue to progress in propagation and so all we can do is trial them and hope for the best. Some Epacris species were successfully cultivated in England in the early days for a time.
Propagation is from seed that must be fresh or cuttings from new season’s growth. We have had no success with either propagation method. If you succeed in striking any Ericaceae cuttings, handle carefully as they have very fine roots.
Two subspecies are currently recognised in NSW:
Lissanthe is a small genus of 6 species – endemic to Australia and in all states except Northern Territory. Two species occur in NSW.
This species like regenerates from seed after fire.
The ‘epacrid’ family has undergone the following reclassifications:
Lissanthe – from Ancient Greek – Lissos (Λίσσος) meaning ‘smooth’ or ‘silky’ and –anthos (ἄνθος) meaning flower, referring to the smooth nature of the flowers.
strigosa – Latin – meaning a ‘strigose surface’ which refers to bristles. In this case, the inside of the floral tube has stiff bristles or hairs.
subsp. subulata – Latin meaning ‘subulate’ referrring to the longer leaves which have a subulate shape – where the leaves gradually narrow to a long drawn-out point.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Lissanthe strigosa profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Lissanthe~strigosa
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 Native Plants Society Australia – Lissanthe strigosa profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/lissanthe-strigosa/