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Australia's National and State Flowers

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Victoria: Common Heath
Common heath ... Victoria's floral emblem

Common heath ... Victoria's floral emblem

Photograph by Warren Worboys, courtesy Australian Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne

The common heath, Epacris impressa, has the distinction of being the first flower to be officially proclaimed an Australian state floral emblem.

It was agreed at a meeting in 1951 by representatives of interested government departments, societies and individuals to name the common heath as the floral emblem of Victoria. Official proclamation of Victoria's state flower was made in 1958.

Impressive flower

The generic name Epacris comes from the Greek epi (upon) and akris (hill) and refers to the elevated habitat of some of its species. While the flower is certainly impressive, particularly when blooming en masse, impressa is Latin for "impressed" or "indented" and refers to five dimples on the outside of the basal part of the floral tube.

The flower has a number of color forms including pure white, pale pink, rose pink, crimson, scarlet and rare double-flowered forms. The pink form is the official state flower of Victoria.

The flowers are tubular and sometimes densely packed around the stem in the leaf axils. This gives the flower cluster a cylindrical brushlike appearance.

A slender, upright shrub growing to a metre or so in height, the common heath flowers from late autumn to late spring, peaking in winter.

Where found

In Victoria the common heath is found in coastal regions and nearby foothills, the Grampians and the Little Desert. It also grows in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.

Cultivation

The common heath may be propagated from seed and plants are suitable for cultivation in cool, moist areas in well-drained acidic soils.

(Source: Australian National Botanic Gardens.)

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