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Rhagodia spinescens

The foliage of Rhagodia plants has a high degree of fire retardance and plants are excellent for slowing down the progress of bushfires when used as barrier plantings. The greyish foliage reflects light at night and can help define paths and road edges. This species is grazed on by stock in times when other food is scarce. An excellent plant for providing habitat for wildlife.

Some plant populations have plants that smell strongly of trimethylamine (bad fish).

The Aranda tribe in central Australia used the fruits to make a red paint for the face.

Best suited to cultivation in temperate and semiarid regions. Rhagodia spinescens grows in most soil types, in full sunshine or moderately dense shade. It copes very well with shady dry situations. Plants are hardy to most frosts but can suffer from sweating during periods of extended humidity, resulting in some leaf drop. Once established they rarely require extra fertilising or watering. A great water saving plant.

This species responds well to hedging and is often used for landscape plantings. A variety of cultivars are available on the market.

Common nameSpiny Saltbush, Hedge Saltbush, Thorny Saltbush
Scientific nameRhagodia spinescens
FamilyChenopodiaceae
Etymology

Genus: Rhagodia – from the Greek rhagodes; referring to the similarity of fruit to berries or grapes.

Species: spinescens – somewhat spiny.

DistributionAll mainland states.
Native habitatThis variable species occurs in a wide range of habitats, usually on clay that may be affected by salinity.
DescriptionA small, spreading or upright shrub which may reach 0.5-1.5 m high by 1.5-4 m across. This species has small, greyish-green leaves which are covered with a flour like powder, called mealy. The branchlets are also mealy and sometimes spiny tipped.
Flowering/fruitingFlowering is sporadic, but mostly occurs from January to April. Some populations have flowers that are bisexual, whilst other populations have flowers that occur as separate males and females.
Location in gardenConnections Garden, bed 28, Wattle Garden, bed 133, Big Ideas Garden, bed 112, Eucalyptus Arboretum, Bisectaria
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