Saturday, 27 August 2011

Try growing: Sandfly Zieria (Zieria smithii)

Sandfly zieria (Zieria smithii)
Sandfly zieria (Zieria smithii) is a good local native plant to try out in your garden. It's attractive, easy to grow, and provides habitat for butterflies. In the wild, it grows as an understorey plant along the coasts and nearby ranges of New South Wales, including the Illawarra.

In form sandfly zieria is a small fairly compact shrub to around 2 metres in height, with groups of three leaflets set opposite each other along the stem, and sprays of small white flowers in spring. The leaves have a distinctive scent, somewhere between lemon and petrol, due to their high safrole content, and are said to be useful as an insect repellant when crushed and rubbed on the skin.

Sandfly zieria is the host plant of the Orchard Swallowtail butterfly, and can help attract these butterflies to your garden. The Butterfly and Other Invertebrates (BOIC) website is a good place to find out more about this and other butterfly species.

The best situation for sandfly zieria is in part shade, with a regular supply of moisture. In the bush, it grows as an understorey plant beneath eucalypts and other tree species. It can cope with clay soil, though grows better in a rich loam.

Young sandfly zieria growing in rich loam soil
If you're a Wollongong City Council ratepayer, you can buy this and other local plants at the Botanic Gardens Greenplan sale days.

More information about sandfly zieria is available from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney.

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