Plant of the month: March
Also Known As: Wire Netting Bush
Native To: southern Australia
Blooms: spring to summer
Habitat: coastal dunes and cliffs
Where Found At BBG&G: Arid House
With its silvery stems and reduced leaves, it is hard to believe that this plant is in the daisy family, Compositae. The silvery stems reflect harsh sunlight, while its tiny, scale-like leaves reduce water loss through transpiration.
It grows to 1 metre in height in a compact, rounded bush. The bright yellow button-like flowers, which appear during the spring and summer, are pollinated by a variety of insects.
The best position for this plant is out in a sunny, open spot with nutrient-poor, well-drained soil. It can tolerate wind, salt spray and light frosts however, a severe frost that falls below -5C will damage the plant.
Pruning can be done straight after flowering, if required, to maintain its shape. Its wiry, silvery-white foliage provides great contrast to many other plants with larger leaves of different colours – in fact, Leucophyta means ‘white plant’. Its specific epithet, brownii, is derived from botanist Robert Brown, who first described the genus as Leucophyta in 1817.
Seeds or cuttings can propagate the plant, but it must be kept in sandy, gritty compost. Be careful not to give them too much water.