Spring is a great time of year to see the “emu bushes” at the Fullerton Arboretum. At the entrance just beyond the waterfall are two shrubby emu bush cultivars, pink-flowered Eremophila laanii ‘Pink Beauty’ and yellow-flowered Eremophila maculata ‘Aurea.’ A little farther down is a small tree with white flowers tinged with lilac called Eremophila ‘Big Poly’ (E. bignoniiflora x polyclada). The orange-flowered shrub Eremophila decipiens at the south end of the arboretum is a little harder to find.
Emu bushes are tolerant of heat, wind, drought (“eremophila” means “desert-loving”), and poor soil (no fertilizer needed.) They ask only for good drainage and a fairly sunny location. With more than 200 species and numerous cultivars this beautiful and underused group from dry areas of Australia range in size from ground covers, small and large shrubs, and small trees with flower colors in orange, yellow, pink, blue, violet and white.
In their native Australia birds called “honeyeaters” feast on the abundant nectar produced by the flowers. Emus, large flightless birds similar to ostriches, eat the fruit. In Fullerton, lacking emus and honey eaters, hummingbirds are crazy about them.
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