Family: Epacridaceae
Common Name: Heath

Native to Australia, these small, densely foliaged shrubs make attractive ornamentals and are also suitable as undershrubs and as rockery plants. However, few are available or grown outside their country of origin. They have interesting bell-shaped spring flowers, sometimes with different coloured tips, resembling little cigars. The edible berries have a sweet apple taste.


A. ciliatum is a prostrate, slow-growing shrub, with a deep root system, which forms a dense, leafy mound. It has masses of dark green, pungent leaves and tubular, deep purplish red flowers with yellow styles. They bloom profusely in winter and early spring.

A. compactum is a prostrate, densely foliaged shrub with rigid, pungent, light green leaves and masses of bright red flowers along the ends of its branches from winter to spring. It is resistant to light frosts.

A. conostephioides, flame heath, is a stiff, dwarf shrub with grayish green pungent foliage and scarlet tubular flowers.

A. humifusum, native cranberry, has grayish foliage and red, curved, bell-shaped flowers. It is a mat-forming, prostrate shrub.

A. pallidum, from Western Australia, is a small shrub with creamy pink flowers.

A. pinifolium, a low, spreading shrub, has mossy, pine-like foliage and diffuse deep yellow or pink flowers, often green-tipped.


Because these shrubs have deep, penetrating root systems, they require deep, sandy, well-drained soil. They also need full sun or partial shade. Most of the species come from dry areas, so seed should he sown in almost pure sand. With the Western Australian species, seed is difficult to collect and germinate. Astroloma will also propagate from autumn cuttings, though these can be slow to strike. Root in a sharp sand and peat or vermiculite mix at the rate of 3:1. Some species may be available from specialist shrub nurseries.


Most will thrive in zone 8 and above.

Astrantia      Astrophytum