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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Coelospermum reticulatum – Medicine Bush (plant)

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Coelospermum reticulatum is a member of the Rubiaceae family. It is found in Arnhem Land, Cape York Peninsula, down the Queensland coastal strip as far as Brisbane, and occasionally in the Channel Country of South-west Queensland.

This Australian native is a straggly shrub, from 1 to 3 metres tall, and sometimes a scrambler or climber. It is found in coastal scrubs, especially dry rainforest and the moister types of Eucalypt woodland, along stream banks, and on stony ridges. The grey bark is rough, corky and tessellated.

Especially in Arnhem Land, the roots of the plant are used by the indigenous peoples to obtain an excellent yellow dye, used for colouring the baskets woven from Pandanus leaves. The colour comes from the inner bark of the roots, and the dyes produced have a strong, fast colour. The natural yellow of the dye can be changed to various shades of orange and rich tan by the addition of ashes from various eucalyptus trees that grow nearby. The boiled fruits produce a black dye, and the bark also makes a dye. The stems are used as fire sticks. (info from here).

The flowers are scented and this plant is one of my favourite natives, it would make an excellent bonsai.

Care and Cultivation of Coelospermum reticulatum

Coelospermum reticulatum likes a full sun to part shade position with adequate moisture and regular fertiliser. Well drained soil is necessary, they are very drought tolerant.

1 plant


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