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Darwinia citriodora, Lemon-scented Myrtle

From Jeff Howes

Darwinia citriodora has long been available in plant nurseries and I first planted a few of these  plants many years ago in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh. They have all grown to about 1.2 metres high by the same width and flowered well. 

They are hardy plants and I have found that they grow and flower better in Sydney’s wetter years than in drier years. This is to be expected, as they originate from the wetter SW corner of Western Australia. They are plants that prefer some shade or dappled light to do their best; however they will tolerate full sun.   

The attractive leaves are rich green, 6 mm to 12 mm long, colouring during winter with traces of purple-red   The underside of the leaves have numerous oil glands and when crushed   between the fingers, a pleasant lemon scent is given off.  Darwinia citriodora flowers for a long time commencing in June/July and lasts most years into October. 

I have seen a form of this plant that has flowers twice as large as ‘normal’. This larger flowering form is a real stunner and it is anticipated that it should be made available in nurseries 

Darwinia - after Dr Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), the grandfather of the famous evolutionist, Charles Darwin; citriodora - of Greek origin and meaning lemon-scented

From Warren and Gloria Sheather

Darwinia citriodora, the Lemon-scented Myrtle, is a native of Western Australia and grows to about 1.5 metres tall with a similar spread, forming a compact, rounded shrub.

Leaves are a rich green, 6 mm to 12 mm long, varying from oblong to almost lanceolate with blunt ends. The underside of the leaves is distinctively marked with numerous oil glands and when crushed leaves give off a pleasant lemon scent (hence the species and common names).

Tubular flowers are initially white then age to red. The flowers are usually carried in slightly pendulous clusters of four or sometimes five to six. They attract honeyeaters. Spring and summer are the flowering periods.

Darwinia citriodora has survived and thrived, in our cold climate garden, for many years. In that time, the species has coped with many frosts and recurring droughts.

Darwinia is a genus with over 70 species and occurs in south-eastern and south-western Australia. The lion’s share of species is native to south-western Western Australia with a few species found in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

Many Western Australian Darwinias have beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, they are not happy in our cold climate garden. Some species have been grafted onto durable root stock but they are rather expensive and they still may not succeed in our garden.

There is a ground covering form of the Lemon-scented Myrtle that is available from nurseries.

The genus name honours Erasmus Darwin the grandfather of Charles Darwin.

Cuttings produce roots rapidly and enthusiastically.

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