Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Monday, July 21, 2008

White Sour Bush - Choretrum candollei - rampantly in flower

When I wrote this post, many years ago, I gave an incorrect identification of this plant.
It is not (Leptomeria acida), but the closely related Choretrum candollei  (known as the "White Sour Bush")

This has some of the smallest flowers which I am able to photograph. One really needs a 10 power lens to make anything of these flowers when out in the bush. This image is about 15 times real size (depending on your screen, of course) - but you get the idea. It is tiny. About half the size of a match-head.
The white part of the flowers (above) are called "tepals" and that each is 0.5mm long. So, the flower would be less than 2.5mm in diameter. The fruit develop to 7mm long (which is large, relative to the flower).

This plant makes up for the tiny flower size by the abundance of its flowers. Virtually the whole bush was covered in these tiny white dots of flowers. Here are several photos of sprays of these tiny flowers. Unfortunately, I did not photograph the entire plant - thinking that I already had done so. Apparently not.
Anyway, here is a link to a stock photo from another website, which shows a spray with developing fruit, which give the plant its common name. This link will take you to a dark photo, but it shows well the ripe fruit which have a translucent appearance, similar to real currants in appearance. This flower is not yet ripe (as you can tell, from the fact that the remains of the flower are still evident). The fruit develop to about 7mm long - again reminiscent of the true Currant (which is not related to this plant).
The fruits of this plant are reported to have been used as a food source by Aboriginal peoples. It is apparently rich in vitamin C, but it is very acidic (tart) in flavour. But for a tired bushwalker, a few fruit can make a refreshing wake-up snack. I would not over-do it, myself. 3 or 4 berries is my limit.

This plant is within the world-wide Family Santalaceae, which puts them as relatives of the famous Sandalwood, but it also means it is a root parasite (a semi-parasite, or hemi-parasite) depending upon who you read.

This website on parasitic plants has photos of plants of this family from all around the world, many of which have flowers which are extremely similar in shape and form to my specimen. It is interesting to just take a minute to see the obvious similarities of these related plants.
Example A: Kunkeliella - from Canary Islands
Example B: Thesium (4 plant species) - from South Africa
Example C: Thesium sp. - from Bavaria, Germany
Example D: Jodina - from Uruguay


Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Denis,

What host plant does this native currant grow on?


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Chai

As it is a "root-parasite", it is not growing "on" another plant or tree (as Mistletoes do). Are familiar with the Exocarpus genus (known in eastern Australia by names like "Cherry Ballart" or "Native Cherry"). These plants have soft foliage, resembling a conifer (in general terms). They tend to be small trees. Those plants are also in the same family, and also are root parasites. They usually grow close to a Eucalypt tree.
Where my photo was taken, there were many large Eucalypts, and the plant could easily have got its roots down, and made contact with the roots of the tree. I understand the roots burrow into the roots of the Eucalypt, but forgive me, I have never dug one up to check exactly how they interact.
Good question.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Chai.
I meant to ask a question: "Are you familiar with the Exocarpus ...?"
Sorry if I confused you.

Mosura said...

No one we get here but our backyard/hill has plenty of Native Cherry.

Denis Wilson said...

Yes, Mosura
I could find lots of photos of Native Cherry in Tassie. Not sure about WA, though.
I remember it from Victoria - The Grampians - where it was the favourite food tree of the feral deer. All the trees were nibbled up from the base to deer-mouth height. They looked very ornamental, lolly-pop shaped like that.
Hunters liked to use that sign to tell them that there were feral deer about. But that is another story.

Duncan said...

I could use a bucket full now to help me fight off R T infection that's laid me low!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Duncan
You must be crook to want a bucketfull of these tasty but tart little bushwalkers' friends.
Get well soon.
Obviously your sense of humour is OK.

Denis Wilson said...

I apologise for the incorrect ID on this plant - as posted originally.
I have now changed the text and the heading, and the links to PlantNET.

Unfortunately I cannot change the comments from other bloggers.

Apologies folks.