A shrub to 2 metres tall, spreading to 2 metres wide with a herbaceous appearance and with a range of forms.
It grows mainly on the coast and tablelands of NSW, north from about Jervis Bay, extending up the central and northern coast and tablelands subdivisions, extending into Queensland to Maryborough, then with a disjunct patch found west of Rockhampton.
It typically grows in sandy to sandstone-shale dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, shrubland and heathland. It may sometimes be found on more clay-based soils.
Lomatia spp. can exhibit simple, as well as compound-appearing leaves (or at least strongly pinnatisect/dividied), arraneged alternately. In this species, many leaves are produced on short stems in a basal ‘clump’ – strongly divided (pinnatisect) or perhaps described as bi-pinnate to 4-pinnate; to 40 cm long and about 20 cm wide (depending on form) with linear to broad lobes to 2 cm wide, with margins typically toothed – dark to mid to light green, paler beneath (bearing somewhat of a resemblance to enlarged parsley leaves).
Flowers have the typical makeup of Proteaceae with each having 4 tepals, 4 anthers within the perianth and 1 carpel. Lomatia spp. tend to have cream to white flowers arranged in pairs which are then arranged in short to elongated panicle-like groups. In this species, flowers are arranged on narrow stems, extending vertically, well above the foliage, to about 30 cm long with each flower about 2 cm across, produced in late spring and summer. Plants will generally flower well after a bushfire event.
The fruit is a follicle; in this species it is up to 50 mm long, brown in colour. It releases winged-seeds (samaras).
My Lomatia silaifolia plant is now many years old and is growing on a thinnish layer of soil over a clay base. My garden in Sydney’s northern suburbs receives morning and early afternoon sun and my plant is flowering for the first time for many years, due to this year’s ample soil moisture.
It can be pruned heavily and after flowering and I cut the old flowering branches back by 2/3s or so. This promotes growth from its lignotuber, thus making a bushier and a more attractive plant.
Lomatia silaifolia is classified as a hardy and long lived plant in most soils and aspects. However I have found it hardly flowers for me if we have extensive dry periods as I do not give it any supplementary watering. Plants in the wild usually flower profusely after fire.
Editor’s notes: A plant that is not cultivated often but is reported to be easy enough to grow. Some gardeners have produced some stunning plants. Sourcing plants from nurseries may be tricky but worth a try. Mature plants may need some sort of ‘burning’ event to produce flowers after a while. Best grown in full sun but can take a shady spot with good drainage.
Propagation is easy from seed which sets in profusion or from cuttings.
This species was first described as Embothrium silaifolium.
This species is somewhat variable across its range and likely hybridises with other Lomatia spp, to produce a wide range of foliage-forms.
Lomatia is a genus of about 12 species, native to Australia and South America. There are 9 endemic spp. in Australia occurring in the eastern states. NSW currently has 5 recognised species.
This species regenerates readily after fire from a lignotuber.
Lomatia – from Ancient Greek Loma (λῶμα) meaning a ‘hem’ or ‘fringe’, via Latin – which refers to the fringed margin of the wings attached to the seeds.
silaifolia – Latin – from the genus Silaum (Parsley) – which the leaves bear a resemblance to.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Lomatia silaifolia profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Lomatia~silaifolia
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Mallee Design – The Very Loveable Parsley Bush – Lomatia silaifolia page malleedesign.com.au/the-very-lovable-parsely-bush/