Although often covered in dense heads of flowers in late winter through to spring, Tree Broom-heath attracts little attention when flowering, possibly because the flowers are a greenish colour similar to the new growth and are very small.
Tree Broom-heath is a large shrub to small tree, usually to around 4m high. Tree Broom-heath belongs to the family Ericaceae, which includes heaths, heathers and rhododendrons to name a few, and also includes the Australian heaths (previously included in Epacridaceae).
In NSW it grows on sandy soils in sclerophyll forest/woodland, and scrub. Although it can occur up to the range escarpment, it mostly grows nearer to the coast, and is especially conspicuous on coastal dunes. It also occurs in Qld, Victoria and Tasmania.
Tree Broom-heath is a component of the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS), an Endangered Ecological Community in NSW. The ESBS occurred on sand over much of the eastern suburbs of Sydney, including that of the Parklands.
Interestingly, a small butterfly, Matthew’s Blue (Neolucia matthewi) can be found flying around the shrubs here in spring. The butterflies’ larvae feed on this shrub for a week or so in mid-spring. They may occur more widely in the Parklands but it is suspected that this is an isolated colony.
Where can Tree Broom-Heath be seen in the Parklands?
Tree Broom-heath can be found regrowing in the York Rd Remnant and the recently cleared Bird Sanctuary, which are both ESBS remnants.
Scattered individuals occur throughout the parklands, but the most conspicuous and mature specimens can be seen on the slope on the northern side of Queens Park. Here a number of gnarled old individuals with fantastically twisted trunks remain as remnants of the original scrub.