The genus Hibbertia is the sole representative of the Dilleniaceae family in temperate Australia and includes about 90 -100 species. Some members of the genus were introduced to cultivation many years ago, there being records of H. dentata and H. perfoliata growing in Europe in the early nineteenth century. Generally, however, the genus has not been easy to cultivate, showing extreme susceptibility to root rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi) with a resultant short life in the open garden.
There are several exceptions and H. pedunculata is one of them. Occurring in open forests of the mountains and coastal areas of NSW and eastern Victoria, this low, usually prostrate shrub forms a hardy, long-lived specimen in cultivation. It may spread to 60 cm and occasional erect stems may reach 20 cm, but it is generally prostrate with stems rooting at the nodes. This latter habit may account for its hardiness. The shining, dark green leaves are linear, 3-10 mm long, and form a strong contrast to the bright yellow flowers.
The five-petalled flowers appear in late spring and summer, but it is not unusual to see the odd flower throughout the year. Each bloom is held on a slender, long stalk above the leaves and is about 1.2 cm in diameter. They are fragile and unsuitable for picking as is the entire genus, but the profusion of flowers makes it a most suitable garden plant.
In cultivation, H. pedunculata will tolerate all but very wet conditions, but its habit lends itself to rock garden culture and it thrives in the well-drained soils of a rockery. Plants in the Australian National Botanic Gardens have shown no damage by frost.
Propagation is easy from cuttings taken when new growth has begun to harden off. Such material can be found from late spring to autumn in well-grown plants. It may also be possible to obtain new plants by layering, making use of the species' habit of rooting at the nodes. The growth habit of H. pedunculata is very compact and it tends to suppress weed growth when used as a ground cover planted at 50 cm centres. The species appears to be pest- and disease-free.
Text by John Wrigley, ANBG (1981)
Name meaning: Hibbertia pedunculata
Hibbertia - after George Hibbert (d.1837 or 1838), a London merchant and patron of botany who maintained a botanic garden at Clapham, London;
pedunculata - refers to the flowers being borne on stalks or peduncles.