Plant of the Month — June 2009
Petalostylis labicheoides R.Br.
Petalostylis labicheoides is an erect shrub that grows to 4 metres. The wonderful yellow-orange flowers bloom from March to December and are insect-pollinated, as seen by the photo. Belonging to the family Caesalpiniaceae its soil preferences include clay and sandy laterite on stony creek beds, ridges and hills. The distribution of Petalostylis labicheoides extends from the Ord-Victoria Plains in the north and continues into the Eremean Province that encompasses the Great and Little Sandy Deserts, the Pilbara, the Gascoyne, Carnarvon and Coolgardie; in the South West Province it can be found on the Geraldton Sandplains.
The shrub takes its name from the Greek petalon, petal + stylos, style, referring to the petal-like style. The species epithet labicheoides is in honour of Jean Jacques Labiche (1748-1819), second lieutenant of Uranie on Freycinet’s voyage round the world 1817-20. The Uranie called and collected at Shark Bay; Labiche, unfortunately, died on the voyage.
Petalostylis labicheoides was described by the famous botanist Robert Brown (1733-1858), who had a strong connection to Western Australia. In 1810 he published the first Flora of Australia: the Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae et Insulae Van Diemen, although this species was published in Charles Sturt’s Narrative of an Expedition into Central Australia, in 1849.
Photo: K.C. Richardson
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