Persoonia myrtilloides

Geebung, Myrtle Geebung

Family: Proteaceae

An erect to spreading shrub, to a height of to 2.5 metres.

It grows in the Blue Mountains from Wentworth Falls, northwards to Goulburn River in NSW (on the Central Coast / Tablelands divide and into the Central Western Slopes).

Young branchlets are hairy.

Leaves are elliptic to ovate to lanceolate, to 50 mm long, to 30 mm wide and hairy when young with a short mucro, mid-green in colour.

Persoonia flowers are typically produced either solitarily, or, in a raceme-like arrangement which can grow on into a leafy shoot. The flower structure is very similar to genera such as Hakea and Grevillea; a perianth of 4 tepals (either sepals or petals) is at the base, 4 stamens which rise above the perianth (the anther bases can be fused to the tepals or free), surrounding one carpel (female part); almost always yellow in colour.

In this species flowers are arranged in groups of up to 40, in a raceme-like group, that grows into a leafy shoot after flowering. Flowering occurs from December to April.

The fruit is a green-drupe tinged with purple.

In the garden

Currently unknown in cultivation in the garden. It is an attractive plant with its green myrtle-like foliage and would be well worth growing. Plants are likely difficult to source due to propagation difficulties.

Propagation

Generally difficult from seed or cuttings and seed needs to be scarified and sown as soon as fresh. Propagation of Persoonia species is becoming more common in nurseries and working with the seeds has attracted many amateur attempts, but with large amounts of resulting frustration.

There is advice that the outer fruit coating (the exocarp) needs to be clipped to open it up, and then the seed put into a solution containing the plant propagation hormone GA (Giberellic Acid) for several hours to days. This will trigger the seed to germinate.

Other techniques include putting fruits in a bag with potting mix for 12 months and storing in a glass house / propagation shed, then clean and sand the fruits and then sow, with germination taking another 6 months.

Other information

Persoonia is a genus of about one hundred species, all of which are endemic to Australia,

It is reported that the fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. Succulent but astringent. The fruit has a sweet fibrous pulp that is fixed to one large seed, it tastes somewhat like sweet cotton wool and is relished by Australian First Nations People.

The term ‘geebung’ is derived from the Dharug language word geebung, while the Wiradjuri term was jibbong.

P. myrtilloides often occurs alongside, and occasionally hybridises, with P. recedens, P. acerosa and P. levis. It also sometimes grows with P. chamaepitys, P. linearis and P. laurina.

Two subspecies are currently recognised:
 – subsp. myrtilloides, found over most of the range with narrower leaves and recurved flower tips
 – subsp. cunninghamii, found in Wollemi NP and the Cudgegong River catchment with reflexed flower tips and wider leaves.

Likely regenerates from seedbank after fire.

Persoonia – named after Christiaan Hendrik Persoon (1761-1836), a South African botanist and mycologist who is most well-known for describing mushroom species. The genus was named in his honour by James Edward Smith (1759-1828), an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society.

myrtilloides – from Latin – resembling a myrtle (Myrtus genus) – likely referring to the leaves which are myrtle-like.

Not know to be at risk in the wild, although has a small natural range.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persoonia

https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Persoonia~myrtilloides

https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/persoonia_myrtilloides_subsp._myrtilloides.htm

By Jeff Howes, edited by Dan Clarke