Plant Profile – Blue Tongue plant

Blue-banded Bees, Teddy Bear Bees, Sweat Bees… all the buzz pollinators love this rainforest plant which flowers sporadically all year and produces edible berries.

Also known as:

  • Melastoma affine
  • Native Tibouchina
  • Native Lasiandra
  • Dhumulu (Yolngu)

Growing Conditions:

  • Prefers fertile, well-drained, moist soil
  • Part-shade (no afternoon sun)/Light shade
  • Not frost tolerant
  • Small to medium shrub
  • Suitable for pots, rockeries, garden beds
  • Needs protection from hot winds

Propagation:

*Cuttings or seed

This plant has beautiful lush green foliage with contrasting reddish stems. In good conditions it has a lovely thick habit and flowers over and over again. The berries are slightly sweet, but not exceptional. The children love them for the blue stain it leaves on their tongues.

I love this plant for the flowers and the bees… and the leaves and the stems… what’s not to love about this plant? It is a little more maintenance than most of my garden. The three plants I have don’t thrive on neglect, but I wouldn’t call them high maintenance. I do need to keep an eye on their moisture levels and throw them a handful of fertiliser every now and then. Most sources say that they flower in Spring and Summer, but mine flower sporadically through much of the year. The flowers are more consistent and plentiful in Spring and Summer, but they are by no means absent during the rest of the year.

It is a variable species meaning that different specimens may have different features despite being the same species. Botanists think that with further study the plants may be divided into more species. All the leaves have a distinctive difference to their overseas cousins, however, rather than having one central vein and two on each side (five longitudinal veins altogether) this plant has only one vein on each side of the central leaf vein making three in total. It is distributed from the South coast of New South Wales all the way along the coast to the Kimberlies in Western Australia.

Wishing you floral abundance,

Jane Grows Garden Rooms

References:

Tucker Bush

Flora of Australia

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