The genus Rulingia is a member of the family Malvaceae which ranges from small shrubs to large trees such as the Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerifolius).
The habit of R. hermanniifolia places it among low growing sub-shrubs and mat-forming plants that are useful in varying situations in most gardens.
In different positions in the Australian National Botanic Gardens plants have formed low, dense mounds 20 cm high by 1 m wide after two years. Even when not in flower the deep green, wrinkled leaves are attractive. It is well suited for rock gardens as it follows contours and crevices, flowing gracefully over the rocks.
In spring the plant is covered with pink tinged buds followed by small star-like flowers which are borne in cymes. The flowers open white and fade to pink with a red centre, giving an attractive contrast as the old flowers are replaced by new ones. The fruit also provides colour from late November with its deep red capsule about 4 mm in diameter.
Propagation is by seed or cuttings which strike readily. Half-hardened wood taken in December or January offers the best results although soft tip cuttings may be used. Commercial hormone powders also aid in the quicker strike of cuttings.
Rulingia hermanniifolia is frost hardy in Canberra but enjoys full sun as its growth is sparser in a situation of heavy shade. It occurs naturally in the Sydney sandstone regions and along the coast where its habitat coincides with that of the Rock Wallaby. Its foliage is often damaged by regular cropping by this animal.
Text by ANBG staff, 1977.
Name meaning: Rulingia hermanniifolia
Rulingia after J. Ph. Ruling, a botanist of Gottingen;