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Epacris microphylla R.Br.
Family Ericaceae
Subfamily Epacridoideae
Common name: Coast Coral Heath, Coral Heath

Epacris microphylla R.Br. APNI*

Synonyms: Epacris microphylla R.Br. var. microphylla APNI*
Epacris longespinulosa Gand. APNI*
Epacris walteri Gand. APNI*

Description: Erect, multibranched shrub to 100 cm high, sometimes to 180 cm; stems with inconspicuous leaf scars; branchlets villous.Open straggly shrub with erect stems, 1.0–1.8 m high; virgate, young stems rounded to ribbed, brown to reddish brown, villous, hairs c. 0.4 mm long; old stems dark brown, scaly with crescentric leaf scars. Leaves evenly spaced down stems, semi-appressed to spreading to reflexed, ± imbricate, broadly deltoid occasionally wider than long, 2.0–3.5 mm long and wide, glabrous, straight but tip inflexed, apex acute and grading into marked shoulders, tip mucronate not pungent, base strongly saggitate to stem-clasping and auriculate, margin ciliolate near base and only partly hyaline, no marked keel, 3 inconspicuous veins; petiole 0.3–0.8 mm, ± flattened, glabrous, appressed to stem.

Leaves usually erect to subreflexed, sometimes upwardly appressed, ovate, rhombic or sometimes ± circular, 2–6 mm long, 1.5–4 mm wide, apex acute to acuminate, base usually cordate, margins ± scabrous; lamina ± thick, usually concave; sessile or petiolate to 1 mm.

Inflorescence a leafy conflorescence with c. 90 axillary flowers aggregated distally but not crowded, conflorescence to c. 40 cm long; axillary uniflorescence with numerous sterile bracts, axis 1.3–5.0 mm long, glabrous; flowers terminal, solitary, conspicuous, erect. Bracts scarious, white, ovate, increasing in size from base of axis to apex, 0.5–1.0 mm long, apex obtuse to acute, margin ciliolate, glabrous. Sepals white, elliptic, 2.0–3.0 mm long, apex acute, margin ciliolate, glabrous. Corolla tube campanulate, length ± sepals or slightly shorter, 1.5–1.7 mm long, glabrous; lobes equal to or slightly longer than tube, 1.5–2.0 mm long, apex obtuse; corolla deciduous after pollination. Stamens within throat of corolla, angled inwards; anthers red, 0.5–0.7 mm long. Ovary globose, 0.5–1.0 mm high, smooth, glabrous, style cylindrical, subsessile, c. 0.3 mm long, below level of anthers or c. 0.8–1.0 mm long and level with middle of anthers.

Fruit a dry capsule, not exceeding calyx, depressed globose, 1.5 mm high, 1.8 mm diam., glabrous, style rarely persisting, calyx wide-spread.

Photo J. Plaza



Flowering: Throughout year but mainly July–November

Distribution and occurrence: Widespread from the coast to c. 1900 m alt.

In swampy heath, also in drier coastal heath and in dry sclerophyll forest on sandstone and granite.
NSW subdivisions: NC, CC, SC, NT, CT, ST, NWS, SWS
Other Australian states: Qld Vic.
AVH map***

Text by E.A. Brown
Taxon concept: Flora of Victoria III


Life History
Vegetative spread No.

Longevity 5--20 years (D. Keith pers. comm.).

Primary juvenile period 5 years (Keith 1996).

Flowers White, at any time of year.

Fruit/seed Capsule, 2 mm long, average seed weight 0.03 mg (J. Howell pers. comm.).

Dispersal, establishment and growth Diaspore: seed, no special dispersal morphology (Westoby et al 1990). Soil-stored seedbank. Recruitment mainly after fire (D. Keith pers. comm.).

Fire response Killed (Morrison et al. 1995), killed by fire, seedlings noted after high intensity fire (at Lane Cove & Narrabeen Lake 1/1994), flowering within 2 years (P. Kubiak pers. comm.).

Interaction with other organisms Shoot damage by rabbits but not eaten (P. Kubiak pers. comm.).

Habitat Heath--woodland on poor soils.

Altitude 0--1000 m                                      Annual rainfall 900--1600 mm

Typical local abundance Frequent.

Vegetation Dry eucalypt forest e.g. with Eucalyptus haemastoma; heath e.g. with Banksia spinulosa, Banksia serrata, Acacia myrtifolia, Acacia suaveolens.

Substrate Sandy soils, with clay influence? on sandstone, low-nutrients, periodically wet.

Exposure LIght shade--full sun.


Life History
Flowers White, October--March.

Fruit/seed Capsule, 2 mm long, March--June.

Dispersal, establishment and growth Diaspore: seed.

Habitat Rock crevices, creekbanks.

Altitude 600--1200 m                                      Annual rainfall 900--1400 mm

Typical local abundance Frequent.

Vegetation Sphagnum bog, shrub swamp.

Substrate Rocky creek banks, sandstone crevices, peaty bog on granite, low nutrients, permanent moisture.

Exposure ? Full sun.

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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