Hibbertia empetrifolia, formerly known as H. astrotricha, occurs naturally in south-eastern Australia, over a wide area from south-east Queensland, around the coast to Kangaroo Island (South Australia) and also in Tasmania.
In the wild it varies from a small, windswept shrub usually less than 30 cm high on coastal sand dunes to a medium shrub of 1.2 m. In very exposed positions, plants may be poor and twiggy, 10-15 cm high. The wide variety of habitats in which this plant occurs includes coastal dunes, heath, woodland and wet and dry Eucalyptus forests.
Flowering is in spring, beginning in late September and continuing until the end of October. At their peak, plants resemble bright yellow mounds with the foliage scarcely visible between the flowers. Long, thin stems tend to sprawl out from from the centre of the shrub, and in small bushes this has a cascading effect. In older shrubs, however, the growth is dense, giving a tight, mounded appearance.
This is one of the hardier species of Hibbertia. During severe winters, plants in exposed positions may be burnt on the growing tips by frost. This is usually not serious and does little harm to the plant.
Propagation is usually by cuttings, which strike quite readily especially if taken early in January or February. Seed germination is variable and unreliable. Plants at the Australian National Botanic Gardens have grown to 3.5 m across and 1.7 m high.
Plants appear to be pest and disease free and it has been noticed that shrubs planted in a shady position stay dense but grow more slowly than those in an open, sunny spot.
Hibbertia empetrifolia would be a beautiful addition to most gardens and could be used to advantage as a ground cover or for height variation in a shrub bed.
Text by Peter Ollerenshaw, ANBG (1980)
Name meaning: Hibbertia empetrifolia:
Hibbertia - after George Hibbert (d.1837 or 1838), a London merchant and patron of botany who maintained a botanic garden at Clapham;
empetrifolia - a botanical Latin compound, empetri from Empetrum, the name of a northern temperate genus, and folia from folium, leaf, indicating that its leaves resemble the leaves of that genus.