A new Epacris for the Blue Mountains

by David Coleby (Sublime Point Bushcare Group)

Well, not new, just recently discovered! I found Epacris browniae in 2009 in south Leura, and a team of National Parks and Blue Mountains Conservation Society volunteers helped me find more of these Epacris over the next two years.

Epacris browniae

Epacris browniae

Epacris browniae (pictured above) joins a list of 28 other Epacris species (and varieties) in NSW. But whereas many are widespread, E browniae is currently confined to the upper Blue Mountains, in treeless situations above 800 m and where rainfall exceeds 1300 mm a year.

The easiest time and place to see this new species in flower is at Sunset Rock, Kedumba Road, on Kings Tableland, Wentworth Falls any time in November, where it grows alongside another epacrid, the shorter Epacris rigida, on the rocky steps down to the lookout.

Its distinguishing features are that it is a woody robust shrub, the branchlets are not hairy, and the broad leaves are thick, shiny dark green with a blunt apex (unlike its close relative Microphylla var microphylla).

 buds and flowers

buds and flowers

E browniae leaf 1631

E browniae leaf

South of the Great Western Highway along  Kedumba Walls, Lincoln’s Lookout, Podgers Hill and Sunset Rock E browniae is 70 –120 cm high. North of the GWH on the Mt Hay Plateau it grows on Flat Top and, in profusion, from the end of the Mt Hay Road out to Butterbox Point and Mt Hay. Plants in these areas tend to be shorter, thinner, less woody and more wiry than in the south.