Blue Pincushion Brunonia australis
The Blue Pincushion is an attractive flowering herb which is widespread throughout Australia except on the tropical north coast. It grows in open forest and heathland and will tolerate many soils and aspects. It flowers in late spring and can be seen in many parts of the Mornington Peninsula. If you take the walk from Seawinds to Waterfall Gully you will see it growing beside the track. It is unusual in that it is the only species in the genus and family. It was first described scientifically by Robert Brown, the Scottish botanist who came into Port Phillip Bay with Matthew Flinders in January 1804 and climbed Arthur’s Seat. It likes moist well-drained soil. Often short-lived in cultivation, it makes an excellent container plant. Treat it as an annual and collect seeds to replant. It is one of my favourite wildflowers so I wrote this ode to celebrate it!
Basal rosettes of hairy leaves, oblanceolate
Sage-green and silky, pushing through wiry grass
In comely clusters near the upland path,
Promising sea-blue snatches for a summer day.
Sessile flower heads come to bloom on slender stem,
Massed tiny tubes all whorled with villous bracts.
And five fine stamens, which extend
Like pins from a pin pad, hoping to attract
The zealot bees who hover round.
Brunonia australis, named for Robert Brown
The quiet Scot. He clambered from Port Phillip shore
recording specimens never scribed before.
A Linnaean exercise in scholarly power
Enhancing the complex beauty of the flower.
oblanceolate : like a lance, with narrow end at base of leaf
bract: modified leaf at base of flower stalk
villous: covered with long soft hairs