Previously known as Myoporum debile
Eremophila and Myoporum are the two Australian genera of the small, chiefly Australasian family Myoporaceae. Eremophila debilis is an almost prostrate sub-shrub found in New South Wales and Queensland. It inhabits clay soils in some of the woodland grass communities on the western side of the Great Dividing Range.
In cultivation, the density of its foliage produces an attractive ground cover plant. The numerous stems have upturned tips and layer (form roots) in the humus beneath. Occasionally, ascending stems provide some height. The alternate leaves are 4-6 cm long and 6-15 mm wide, the petiole absent or very short. The leaves are inserted at an acute angle to the stem, exhibiting their pleasant mid- to light-green colour.
The small flowers are set individually in leaf axils towards the end of the branches. Each five-petalled flower is about 1 cm in diameter, white with faint pink or purple tips or a totally 'bluish-white'. Flowering occurs in spring to summer with red to purple succulent mature fruit (drupes) developing in February - March. The bitter fruits were eaten by Aboriginal people.
The better plants of this species growing at the Australian National Botanic Gardens can be found growing in both sunny and semi-shaded locations. In Canberra it appears necessary to give some protection from frost, such as that provided by overhead trees.
Planting a number of individual plants together produces an attractive effect. Alternatively, a single healthy specimen will cover an area of a square metre in two or three years. Eremophila debilis can be grown from seed, although cuttings are preferable. Best results have been achieved by taking cuttings in summer. These require three or four weeks to strike.
Once established, Eremophila debilis is a desirable ground cover plant worthy of cultivation for its flowers, fruits and foliage.
Text by Mark Lodder, ANBG (1980) updated
Name meaning: Eremophila debilis
Eremophila - from the Greek eremos - desert places, referring to arid habitats;
debilis - a Latin word meaning weak or small, referring to the plant's low-growing habit.