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EREMOPHILA and Allied Genera

290 x 210 pp, 704 pages, 335 colour plates, 300 maps, 325 line drawings

ISBN 9781877058165, $99.95, Hardcover

Dr R.J. Chinnock

Available: Out of Print

This book is the result of thirty years research by Dr R.J.(Bob) Chinnock, the world authority in the family Myoporaceae, in which he has produced a new classification of the family resulting in the delimitation of 3 new genera, 94 new species and 37 new subspecies, and a revised infrageneric classification of the genera Eremophila and Myoporum. Treatment of species includes a detailed description as well as analytical drawings, notes on distribution, ecology, conservation status and relationships. Myoporum has small, almost regular, white, rarely pinkish, flowers, which may or may not have spotting on the lobes whereas Eremophila has large, brightly coloured, irregular shaped flowers that are often prominently spotted on the lobes or in the floral tube.

Myoporaceae are largely restricted to Australia where five of the seven genera occur, and of these all but one, Myoporum, are endemic. The two genera not represented in Australia, Bontia and Pentacoelium each contain a single species and restricted to the Caribbean (plants have recently been found in Florida, near Miami) and southern China, Japan and northern Vietnam, respectively. Myoporum is largely Australian but species extend into the Pacific (including New Zealand and Hawaii) and one species to the Indian Ocean. Species of Eremophila and Myoporum are considered important plants by the Aboriginal peoples, largely for the medicinal properties, but they are also used culturally and to a minor extent as a food source.

The high salt tolerance and drought resistance of Myoporaceae combined with the attractive flowers has made this family a very valuable horticultural resource in recent years, especially in drier parts of Australia and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere. The plants are very popular as Australian natives with long flowering times and diverse and showy flowers, often visited by birds and various insect groups.

Myoporum has been introduced into many countries like Portugal, Spain, Namibia, South Africa, south-western USA and Brazil for planting in coastal and low rainfall regions. A number of species have been used but by far the most widespread ones appear to be M. laetum and M. montanum. Myoporum is widely utilised as a hedging plant in coastal areas. It can be grown to various heights and forms a good barrier against on-shore winds so it is frequently planted around homes, caravan parks, and along paths for shelter belts, etc. It is also grown as a street tree and M. laetum, for example, has been observed in various places in southern Africa like Swakopmund, Cape Town and Johannesburg used in this manner.

Eremophila, and a few species of Myoporum like M. parvifolium and M. floribundum are grown more for their horticultural appeal. The majority of species are shrubs up to about 2 metres with a great variety of flower colour and form. The flowers are usually produced prolifically especially between late winter and early summer.

Unlike Eremophila, Myoporum seeds germinate more readily. The fruits of most species are edible and known to be consumed by birds so the potential for spread of this genus under optimum conditions should be considered. Myoporum is widely grown in the south-western United States. It is grown throughout California, but also occurs in Nevada and Arizona and one species, M. laetum, has been declared a weed in coastal areas of southern California. Other species grown in California are M. parvifolium (ground-cover) and M. insulare. In South Africa and Namibia M. montanum and M. laetum have been noted in various locations. Propagation of this genus is relatively easy from cuttings or seed.