Melichrus.JPG (46675 bytes)Melichrus urceolatus: is a member of the Epacridaceae family and is known as Urn Heath.
Melichrus urceolatus is a dwarf to small shrub that has hairy young growth. Branches are usually erect. The adult leaves are stiff, about 2.5 centimetres long, narrowly ovate, sessile (with no petiole or leaf stalk) and blue-green to deep green in colour. Leaves have a sharp point and parallel veins (a characteristic of all Epacridaceae).
The flowers are slightly less than one centimetre long, solitary, carried in the base of the leaves and usually profuse. Blooms are said to be fragrant but we have not been close enough to confirm this characteristic. Flowers are greenish-white to cream and are carried from March to November. They are also sporadic at other times. The fruit is globular and greenish brown.
Aboriginal people called the species Mukram.
Melichrus urceolatus is widespread and variable. It is found throughout New South Wales, except for the far west of the state, as well as Queensland and Victoria. The Urn Heath grows naturally on Yallaroo.
In future the Urn Heath may be split into three separate species.
Melichrus urceolatus could be cultivated in native cottage gardens or rockeries. Urn Heath has one horticultural drawback. In common with other Epacridaceae it is difficult to propagate from either seed or cuttings. Someone, in days gone by, must have had a propagating answer because Urn Heath was introduced into England in 1824.
The species name means jug or urn-shaped and probably refers to the shape of the flowers.