Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monotoca elliptica, Broom-heath

Coastal shrub Monotoca elliptica (Family: Epacridaceae)

Flower detail
Quiet and unassuming would be a way of describing this shrub and perhaps because of this, it has never made the crossover to mainstream horticulture and become a familiar garden plant. It certainly has all the attributes to make it in the garden scene and would be ideal as low hedge in a sea side garden. Limited horticultural use is usually attributed to difficulty of propagation and slow growth potential and I suspect the latter may be the case here. In the instant gratification garden world, no one is prepared to wait for twenty years for a shrub to reach 2 metres and form a dense and compact shape, and in my estimate this is probably how long it would take. The given genus name is interesting for its derivation and comes from the floral parts of its 1 celled ovary, hence mono and 'tokos' meaning birth. I enjoy coming across this shrub on coastal walks, because, at all times of the year, it is appealing but especially now when it is smothered in tiny white flowers. Often I come across specimens which have become victims of rough seas and coastal erosion and their trunks have taken on a gnarled and twisted appearance which would make any Japanese bonsai enthusiast long to have a similar specimen in a container and in pride of place in a collection or displayed on a table.