Plant of the Month: The Tale of White Beard

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Common in heathlands and sandstone areas the Bearded Heaths (Leucopogon spp) look fairly unremarkable till coming into flower and fruit. The Bearded Heath gets it’s botanical Genus Leucopogon from the  Greek “Leuco-” meaning white and “pogon” meaning beard, for once the botanical and common names match up and this refers to the distinctive hairy corolla the flowers have. 

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Image from Plantnet

Australia has around 200 species of Leucopogon with about 30 in New South Wales, generally shrubs with small spiky leaves with parallel venation. Previously in the Epacridaceae family taxonomic revisions have placed them in with the Ericas of Africa and Europe, part of a much larger order going back 90 million years..

The other interesting thing about Leucopogons is that they’re a bush food, mind you it’s only a small fruit which won’t fill you up, but they are a sweet snack.

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Image from Plantnet