Blue Pincushion

Blue Pincushion









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

sessile: stalkless

bract: modified leaf at base of flower stalk

villous: covered with long soft hairs

Janet Limb