RICHEA  (Epacridaceae.)

These strange-looking plants are a feature of the wet forests of  mountains and south-west Tasmania, and starting in early summer create a spectacular landscape of red, pink, or cream flowers. There are ten species of Richea, nine of which are endemic to Tasmania.


Richea pandanifolia



RICHEA PANDANIFOLIA 

(Giant Grass Tree, 'Pandani')



A tree to 12 m, usually unbranched, lower trunk bare or clothed with persistent dead leaves. Numerous leaves up to 1.5 m long and 3.5 cm wide form a crown on the top of the trunk, each leaf with a wide sheathing base and a tough blade tapering to a long point, the margins coarsely toothed. Flowers of red or pink flowers are produced in dense stalked heads in leaf axils, and are rich in nectar. As is typical with Richea spp. the caps and petals are shed to reveal the stamens. 



Richea pandanifolia flowers
There are 2 subspecies - ssp.pandanifolia is up to 12 m tall and the dead leaves persist on its single trunk. Ssp. ramulosa is up to 4 m tall with few to many branches from which the dead leaves have fallen. The pink flowers are densely clustered and tucked into the leaves near the crown of the plant.
Another recently described Richea with relatively large leaves is R. alpina which grows on alpine moorlands and has a distinctive terminal flower spike. Two species, R. continentis and R victoriana occur on the mainland.


   


 
Richea dracophylla RICHEA DRACOPHYLLA

A sparsely branched shrub, often with one main vertical stem, up to 5 metres tall. Leaves spirally arranged with bases sheathing the stem; blade tapering into a long sharp point, averaging 22 cm overall. Dense flowering spikes appear at the ends of a few branches and old blackened flowering spikes are in evidence throughout the year. Petals of the small flowers form a pointed cap which falls off when the flower opens. A mature flower spike appears bristly due to the prominent stamens and lack of  petals. 


 
Richea procera RICHEA PROCERA

One of a number of small leaved members of this genus, with yellow flowers on woody stems. It intergrades with Richea sprengeloides, which has white flowers, at subalpine levels.


 
Richea scoparia



RICHEA  SCOPARIA 

Erect shrub to 1.5 metres high by 1 metre across with tapering leaves to 7 cm. which is a widespread mountain plant in Tasmania. Flowers of red or pink in erect terminal spikes occur in summer. 
This prickly shrub is disliked by bushwalkers because it forms dense thickets which can be harsh on the legs if there is no track.

( "The Skink Link" - New research finding)
 


Richea gunnii
RICHEA GUNNII                        Epacridaceae
Bog Candleheath

An erect plant to about 1 m sparsely branched, with tapering leaves, narrow-ovate.
Flowering in summer; pink-cream on interrupted spikes with red stems. 

Usually found in sphagnum bogs or shallow pools, particularly in alpine areas 

Tas endemic.



RICHEA SPRENGELIOIDES                Epacridaceae
Rigid Candleheath

Richea sprengelioides





A stiff woody shrub to 1 m. Young branches rough with encircling scars of fallen leaves, older branches with grey flaking bark, becoming smooth grey. Leaves lanceolate, crowded, with wide sheathing bases wrapped round the stem, blades hard, spreading, parallel veined, rather wide, tapering quickly to a hard point, more or less in 4 rows.

Flowers pale yellow in small terminal heads hardly wider than the leaves. Each flower with its bracts solitary in a leaf axil, perianth cap yellow, soon shed. Stamens long, thick, anthers oblong. Fruit capsular.  The foliage resembles that of Sprengelia incarnata but the plant is far more substantial, the leaves are wider with a much wider angle at the point.

Flowering November-December.

Widespread on mountains.
Tas. endemic.

Information courtesy of the Launceston Field Naturalists Club.


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