Flame Heath (Astroloma conostephioides)
Common names: Flame Heath
Taxonomic name: Astroloma conostephioides
Habitat: Mallee and woodlands
Form: shrub to 1 metre
Flowering time: Summer
When it’s in flower, you can’t miss Flame Heath (which has the unwieldy taxonomic name Astroloma conostephioides) in the bush – it’s everywhere! It is one of the most common Heaths in the Mallee and woodlands around Gawler.
A prickly bush up to a metre tall with flame red flowers that hang downward. The flowers have 5 petals arranged in a tubular structure. Its flowers are, to say the least, prolific and fall easily from the bush leaving a bright red carpet after a strong wind has been through.
Flame Heath has an edible berry but my favourite thing is the little drop of nectar to be found in the base of most of the flowers.
To get to the nectar, you have to punch off a flower and pop off the base then squeeze the bottom of the tube gently. Then you will be rewarded with a tiny drop of sweetness.
It’s a pretty small drop. It took me ages of camera and flower juggling to get the pic of the droplet in the picture above. Of course, you can just eat the whole flower, but the taste of the petals masks the sugary taste of the nectar.
The flowers dry out around the seed, so there’s not really much of a fruit, but the seeds are crunchy and edible, though not too tasty.