Philotheca nodiflora var. lasiocalyx

Blue Waxflower

Family: Rutaceae

A small upright shrub about 50 cm tall by 30–50 cm wide which forms a ground cover.

It comes from the Esperance district of WA although is not widespread. It is typically found in sandy soil growing in swamp-heathland vegetation.

Philotheca spp. have simple and alternate leaves (a trait it shares with its relative, Citrus), often with conspicuous oil glands and odorous.

In this species, the leaves are linear, to 15 mm long, to 0.2 mm wide, hairy grey-green which has a strong aroma when crushed, due to the volatile oils.

Philotheca spp. produce flowers in leaf axils or at the terminals, often reduced to single flowers with leaves in-between or in cymose or racemose groups. Flowers have 5 sepals (rarely 4) and 5 petals (rarely 4).

In this species, the has terminal clusters of delicate lilac-blue 5-petaled flowers ageing to purple. They appear in late winter to early spring and are about 10–15 mm in diameter.

The fruit of Philotheca is a schizocarp-capsule – which splits into equal segments on maturity which each segment called a coccus (plural cocci). The capsule is approximately 5 mm long with a beak to 3 mm long.

In the garden

It tolerates full sun to part shade in freely draining acidic soil.

Lightly prune after flowering in late spring to make it much bushier with a prolific number of terminal flowers.

Ideal for containers, rockeries and native garden beds.

It is best suited to areas with a dry summer climate. It is drought and frost tolerant once established.


Propagation from seed is difficult but cuttings usually strike readily from new season’s growth.

Other information

Philotheca is a genus of about 50 species, all are endemic to Australia with species in every state except the Northern Territory. NSW currently has 16 species. Many plants formerly in Eriostemon are now in this genus.

Likely regenerates from seed bank after fire.

Philotheca was first described by Edward Rudge in 1812. As there are some reported variations on the meaning – the Latin of Rudge in his publication was transcribed for these profiles as follows:

all as in Eriostemone, but the habit is very different from that of the ericoid branches; The terminal flowers and the filaments below, enlarged into the naked box, whence the name.

It has been reported that Psilos (ψιλός) refers to “naked” or “bare” in Ancient Greek. Philos (φίλος) in Greek tends to mean “friend”. Philia (φιλία) in Ancient Greek means “highest form of love”

The suffix -theca refers to “box” or “case” in Ancient Greek. Hence, it is thought the name means “naked-box” or “loving-box” referring to the condition of the 10 (or 8) stamens that are fused at the base and forming a box-like structure. (Note: this is not the case in all species with some having free stamens).

nodiflora from Latin “nodus”, meaning “a knot” (in botany taken as indicating a leaf node) and “florus”, to “flower”, referring to the flowers occurring in the leaf nodes or axils.

var. lasiocalyx – refers to the Greek. lasios (hairy) and calyx, meaning “hairy calyx”.

Previously known as Eriostemon nodiflora, but revised in 1998 to Philotheca.

This species is not known to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Philotheca nodiflora profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/philotheca-nodiflora/

Western Australian Herbarium: Florabase – The Western Australian Flora –                              Philotheca nodiflora profile page https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/18530

By Heather Miles. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.