- Last updated:
- 20 Nov 2019
In some ways I’m a bit sad writing an article about this particular plant, because as a result of the introduction of Myrtle Rust Puccinia psidii into Australia and its arrival in our area four years ago, the majority of plants I’m familiar with are suffering drastically, with foliage cover reduced by over 90%. The majority of plants are not just stressed but critical and in this condition they struggle to put on leaves let alone flower and without flowers there’s no fruit and without fruit there’s no seed and without seed (without the potential for the next generation), survival isn’t looking good for Rhodomyrtus psidioides. Hopefully I’m wrong and in other areas of the Sunshine Coast, or further south there are plants thriving and reproducing.
Rhodomyrtus psidioides is the single representative of the genus Rhodomyrtus in South East Queensland and New South Wales — it is nearing its northern most limit of distribution here on the Sunshine Coast (occurs as far north as Tinana Creek, Maryborough).
In form it is a shrub to small tree, that suckers readily, which can be great for a hedge. It can form small thickets, where they do occur naturally, and this tends to be in the ecotone between rainforest and tall eucalypt communities. Foliage is generally dense and the opposite leaves have a light fruity smell when crushed. The white flowers can be produced en masse and are one of the larger of our local Myrtaceae flowers measuring up to 25mm across. Flowers are followed by a green to yellow fruit 10-15mm with a rough textured skin and contain many seeds surrounded by a sweet pulp, sought after by bird, bat and bush food connoisseur alike.
If you do find healthy specimens of this plant in gardens, revegetation areas and the wild, they are well worth propagating from to help ensure the ongoing survival of this species. Plants treated with fungicides in nurseries may look great when you buy them, but if they are susceptible, the Myrtle Rust will catch up with them.
Article provided by Spencer Shaw of Brush Turkey Enterprises