For many years I have kept a log of the plants I see in the district and when they flower. If I run my finger down the March/April column, however, flowering plants are few and far between. That said, two of my favourites flowering at this time both have tubular bell shaped flowers: the Native Cranberry and the Native Fuchsia.
Native Cranberry (Astroloma humifusum), from the Greek ‘astro’ meaning star and ‘loma’ meaning fringe, (see fringed flower pictured above) also known as Cranberry Heath, is a member of the Epacridaceae or heath family. It is a hardy ground cover found on the rocky slopes of our property. The leaves are pine-like and in autumn the flat bush is covered with tubular red flowers. Cranberry Heath is difficult to observe because it is often obscured by native grasses. After flowering, the plant develops green berries which gradually turn red; hence the reference to ‘cranberry’. The berries are sweet and can be used to make jams.
Native Fuchsia (Correa reflexa) or Common Correa is a small shrub that also has reddish-pink bell shaped flowers in autumn. On it there is nothing to eat for us humans, but the pollen is sought after by various birds, especially honeyeaters.
Though the flowers of both shrubs do not stand out in the bush setting as much as some of more vivid bottlebrushes and grevilleas, they are both well worth a look if you have the time and don’t mind getting your knees dirty.