Thryptomene baeckeacea is a spreading slender shrub that grows to about 1 metre tall, to 1.5 metres wide with a slender habit (it may get larger in the wild).
It is endemic to Western Australia, and is found mainly around the Geraldton area and north to Gregory.
It grows in coastal shrublands and heathlands inlcuding on sand dunes and sandstone.
Thryptomene spp. have small simple and opposite leaves, usually in a decussate arrangement (where each pair of leaves is orientated at right angles, off the stem, to the next pair). In this species, they are small, to about 3 mm long and 1 mm wide, mid to dark green in colour.
Thryptomene spp. have 5-merous flowers, similar in appearance to genera such as Micromyrtus and Baeckea. They tend to be produced singularly, or in pairs, in the upper leaf axils and at the stem terminals, in large numbers, to create a heavy-flowering effect. In this species, flowers are white to pink or purple, in leafy clusters, from May to October, as well as spot flowering during summer and autumn.
The fruit is a very small nutlet, only 1 to 2 mm long.
This species is cultivated on the east coast of Australia with a lot of success and is sold in many nurseries.
Several cultivars are available including ‘Pink Cascade’.
I have been a bit hesitant to recommend this Western Australian plant, as it naturally grows along the coast and inland from Perth, north to around Geraldton and Shark Bay. Over the years, east coast gardeners have found that many (but not all) plants from Western Australia can be less than successful due to the higher humidity and increased rainfall we experience. However, this plant has proved to be quite adaptable and hardy and well worth growing.
When purchasing this plant, it is best to do so when it is flower so you know what the flower colour is. It grows to about one metre high (or a bit less) and about 1.2m wide with a slightly weeping habit. A perfect cottage garden plant for small gardens.
In terms of maintenance, they only need the occasional prune to keep it in check and keep it bushy.
In my northern Sydney suburban garden, I planted my first Thryptomene baeckeacea about 5 years ago and have been impressed with its hardiness, long flowering period and how good the small purple flowers are as cut flowers. I have since planted a few more over the years as they are a very attractive small plant in flower.
My plants are all growing in a position that receives sun for only 3 or 4 hours a day and are planted in a thin layer of soil over a clay base. Despite receiving no supplementary water after they were established (except during very dry periods), they all thrive and flower well.
The first reference that I could find about growing this plant in the Australian Plant Society journals was in Vol 4, No 20, dated March 1967. So this plant, as with many other Western Australian Thryptomenes, have been in cultivation for many years.
Can be grown from seed as well as cuttings.
Thryptomene is a genus of around 40 species, endemic to Australia, growing in all Australian states. NSW has only 1 species.
Most species would regenerate from seed after fire. Some suckering from lateral roots may be possible.
Thryptomene – From the Greek, Thryptomeni (θρυπτομένη) meaning ‘crushed’, ‘broken into pieces’ or ‘made small’. This likely refers to the small stature of most plants.
baeckeacea – named for Dr Abraham Baeck (or Back) (1713-1795), a Swedish naturalist and physician, and reportedly good friends with Carolus Linnaeus.
The first specimen of this plant was collected by William Dampier in 1699, when he landed at Dirk Hartog Island in Western Australia.
Western Australian Herbarium: Florabase – The Western Australian Flora – Thryptomene baeckeacea profile page https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/6051
Gardening with Angus – Thryptomene baeckeacea profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/thryptomene-baeckeacea/
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.