Epacris impressa

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Epacris impressa, also known as Common Heath, is a shrub that is native to the south-east of Australia. The pink-flowered form, often referred to as Pink Heath, is the floral emblem of the state of Victoria.

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Description

The plants have an erect habit and can grow to 2 to 3 metres high, although plants in the range of 0.5 to 1 metre tall are more commonly observed. The branches are stiff and have small leaves with prickly, pointed apices that are 8 to 16 mm long. The flowers, which mainly occur between late autumn and early spring are white, pink or red in colour and appears in dense clusters along the stems. They are 1–2 cm long and are narrow and tubular with five indentations on the base.[2] These are followed by a 3.3–3.5 mm long capsule.[3]

Distribution

Epacris impressa is commonly found in coastal regions and nearby foothills in a region extending from the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia across southern Victoria and northwards to southern New South Wales as far as the Clyde River. It is also found in the Grampians and the Little Desert in Victoria and is widespread in Tasmania.

Symbolism

At a meeting of representatives of government and other bodies in 1951, the pink form of the Common Heath, the "Pink Heath", was adopted as the official floral emblem for the state of Victoria in 1958.[4] Victoria was the first Australian state to adopt a floral emblem.[5] The proclamation, was as follows:

An Australian stamp issue of state floral emblems was issued in 1968, including the Pink Heath which was featured on the 13c stamp.[5][7] The Pink Heath was also depicted on the VicRoads registration label for a number of years up to 2006. In 1973, a depiction of Pink Heath was added to the armorial ensign for Victoria.

Interaction with honeyeaters

Honeyeaters, such as the Eastern Spinebill, are attracted to the flowers in their native habitat. As the bird gathers the nectar, the pollen, which has fins, attaches itself to the feather on the heads of the birds and is thus carried to other flowers, aiding cross pollination.[8]

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