Flame Heath (Astroloma conostephioides)
Habitat: Mallee and woodlands
Flowering Time: Late Summer to early Summer
Description and uses:
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!
A prickly bush up to a metre tall with tubular, flame red flowers, it is one of the more common Heaths in the Mallee and woodlands around Gawler.
The blue green leaves are spiky, but not so sharp as our Native Currant (Acrotriche depressa). 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 (pics coming as soon as they’re around) 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.