Plant of the Month — July 2008
Chorizema cordatum Lindl.
July is the middle of winter in the Perth region, a time of overcast skies, hopefully heavy rains and occasionally sunny days. This is when, amid the blustery conditions, Chorizema cordatum begins to bloom, invoking the wonderful splashes of colour worthy of a painter’s palette. It is totally joyous: its colours an affirmation of life from the beginning of winter through to the end of spring.
This scrambling, low-growing shrub grows on the Darling Scarp and Range near Perth and follows the coast south to just west of Albany; in the north populations can be found near Mt. Lesueur. Its soil preferences include sand, sandy loams or clays with gravel. It also favours granite or laterite outcrops, watercourses and winter-wet flats. Chorizema cordatum is a member of the large Papilionaceae, or pea family. Its genus name is derived from the Greek chorizo to divide + nema thread, and refers to the stamens being seperate from one another and not united in a sheath. The species epithet cordatum derives from the Latin, cor or coradis heart, referring to the heart-shaped petals. It is said that Jacques de Labillardière, the French explorer and botanist who was discoverer and author of the plant, danced for joy at finding the flower and fresh water at the same time.
There is a cultivated variant of the species available from native plant nurseries in the metropolitan region. The vibrant colours of this small shrub, therefore, can be a feature and highlight of many gardens, rockeries or patios.
Photo: B.A. Fuhrer
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