Local plants

The 66 plants listed below are original species that still survive here in Cottesloe. These local native plants are adapted to our local soils and climate and provide habitat for the wildlife that has evolved with them. Plants are the food of many local insects, which in turn support birds, lizards, bats, and frogs.

The plant list was determined by:

  • a survey in 1983, by local ecologist Robert Powell, of naturally occurring plants at the Cottesloe Native Garden.
  • plant material collected at Mudurup Rocks by Cottesloe Coastcare during 2002-2003 and sent to the WA Herbarium for identification.
  • a herbarium collection at Grant Marine Park in 2002 before restoration work started.

Many of these plants are highly desirable plants to grow in your garden:

  • plants from our own locality give a sense of place;
  • they are water-wise and need little or no watering once they are established; and
  • they support many local insects which in turn support birds and other animals.

For more information on planting local plants in your garden see our fact sheet on growing local plants on your verge and garden and our poster – ‘Create a Coastal Ecosystem on your Verge’.

The botanical name is followed by some common names and Nyoongar names, in brackets. A number of books were consulted in compiling this list of plants and they are listed here.

All of the photos were taken in Cottesloe by Robyn.

Thanks to Robert Powell for his assistance, any mistakes however, are mine – Robyn Benken.

Click on an image for a bigger picture (opens in a new window).

 Scientific nameCommon namePlant descriptionFlower colourFlowering months
Acacia cyclops Red-eyed wattle (galyang)A large shrub or small tree, recognised by its conspicuous seed-pods, which contain dark seeds surrounded by their red stalks. Birds feast on these seed-stalks and insects and lizards shelter in the dense foliage. The larvae of a butterfly, the two-spotted line blue, eats the buds and flowers, which appear throughout the year.
See more on Florabase and our Fact sheet.
YellowSeptember to May
Acacia lasiocarpa Dune moses (panjang)A low shrub that grows to 1 m, in sunny spots on a variety of soils. It tolerates salt well and grows near the beach. It has hairy leaves, not phyllodes (flattened leaf stems), and there may be one or two spines in each leaf axil. Like red-eyed wattle, this and the following wattles support the two-spotted line-blue, but only when they are flowering.
See more on Florabase.
YellowMay to October
Acacia PulchellaAcacia pulchella Prickly mosesA shrub that can be erect or sprawling, with ferny leaves, not phyllodes. There are one or two spines at the leaf base. Unlike Acacia lasiocarpa this shrub is not salt-tolerant. A wattle that is beautiful and small – which is what the Latin name, pulchella means.
See more on Florabase.
YellowJuly to September
Acacia rostellifera Summer-scented wattleA large shrub to 5 m high, which grows in sand or on limestone. It can form dense thickets as it spreads from underground runners. The thickets help stabilise the soil and provide valuable habitat for birds and reptiles. A butterfly, the varied hairstreak breeds on this plant.
See more on Florabase.
YellowJuly to December
Acacia truncataAcacia truncataA shrub that grows to 2 m, usually in a dense domed habit. The species name, truncata, is from the Latin, ‘to cut off’, referring to the phyllodes’ short blunt end. Acacia littorea which grows on Rottnest Island has similar phyllodes.
See more on Florabase.
YellowJune to September
Acanthocarpus preissii Prickle lilyThis low growing herb has rhizomes (underground runners) and thrives on coastal dunes. The stems are a prickly tangle and the leaves have spiny points. Clusters of flowers are followed by round, rough fruits containing greenish-orange round seeds. A small butterfly, the silver-spotted ochre, breeds on this plant.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteApril to May
Acrotriche cordata Coast ground berryA low-growing or erect shrub to 1 m high. Cordata describes the heart shaped leaves. It grows on coastal limestone, cliffs and dunes. White flowers are followed by tiny green berry-like fruits. Only a few plants remain in Cottesloe.
See more on Florabase.
Green, whiteJuly to December
Agonis flexuosa Peppermint (wonnil)The suburb of Peppermint Grove was named after this medium-sized tree. When the leaves are torn a peppermint odour is released. Old peppermints have gnarled trunks and attractive weeping foliage. The specific name flexuosa means ‘full of bends’, which refers to the shape of the stems. The peppermints in Cottesloe bushland may be planted specimens.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteJuly to December
Atriplex isatidea Coast saltbushA silver-grey plant to 2 m high with a scaly leaf surface. Growing on primary dunes this plant copes well with strong light, shifting sand, salt and wind. The male and female flowers are on the same or separate plants. Larvae of a butterfly, the saltbush blue, feed on various saltbushes.
See more on Florabase.
Green - mostlyMarch to June
September to October
Austrostipa elegantissimaFeather spear-grass A tufted, rhizomatous perennial grass that grows in a variety of soils.
See more on Florabase.
Green and fluffySeptember to January
Austrostipa flavescens Tall spear-grass A tufted perennial grass that grows on sand dunes and limestone. The larvae of some species of butterfly, such as the wedge skipper and western brown, feed on native grasses.
See more on Florabase.
Green, yellowSeptember to October
Banksia dallanneyi Couch honeypotPreviously called Dryandra lindleyana. A prostrate shrub to 30 cm. The flowers are cone-shaped. Remnant specimens survive at Cottesloe Native Garden, in Broome Street.
See more on Florabase.
Yellow, brown, cream, pinkJune to September
Banksia menziesii Firewood banksia (biara)A crooked or spreading tree to 8 m, growing on sandy soils. Honey-eating birds drink the nectar during the long flowering period in autumn and winter. Greyish-green toothed leaves contrast with the flower-spikes which change from silver to pink and orange.Many insects and native bees visit the flowers.
See more on Florabase.
Grey to orange to pinkFebruary to August
Banksia sessilisParrotbush (boojak)Previously called Dryandra sessilis. Parrotbush is a shrub to 5 m tall, growing on limestone. It forms dense, prickly thickets, which provide cover and nest sites for birds. Its flowers, from late autumn to late Spring, are favoured by honeyeaters. The seeds are eaten by ringneck parrots and black cockatoos.
See more on Florabase.
Cream or yellowApril to October
Burchardia congestaMilkmaidsA tuberous perennial herb that grows from a corm. The flower stems are about 50 cm tall. There are just a few plants left among other species of the Cottesloe limestone. (photo-milkmaids in sedge)
See more on Florabase.
WhiteAugust to October
Callitris preissiiRottnest cypress A conifer with rich green foliage, which grows to 10 m. It occurs naturally on coastal dunes in the Perth region and on Rottnest Island. Male and female cones grow on the same tree. Male cones are only 5mm long and female cones are much larger woody globes, which split to release winged seeds.
See more on Florabase.
October to February (Plants in fertile state recorded)
Carpobrotus virescensCoast pigface (kolbogo)Pigface is a hardy perennial with angular succulent leaves. It occurs on the coast and is present in Grant Marine Park. The fruit is fleshy, with many seeds embedded in it. The local pigface is similar to the introduced species, C. edulis, which has yellow flowers fading to pink.
See more on Florabase.
Pink, white or pale purpleJune to January
Cassytha racemosaDodder laurelA twining parasitic herb. The small pear shaped, lobed fruit, is eaten and spread by birds. The thin brown or yellow stems spread like a net over the host plant. Some plants remain near Vlamingh Memorial in South Cottesloe.
See more on Florabase.
White, yellow, greenMost of the year
Clematis linearifoliaOld man’s beard (binitch)A vigorous woody climber that grows on dunes and limestone. There are male and female plants. The common name comes from the woolly, long-tailed fruits, which lie among the shrub’s branches until they are blown away by the wind. A few plants remain in Cottesloe at John Black Dune Park.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteJuly to September
Conostylis candicansGrey cottonheadsA grass-like, rhizomatous, perennial herb, that grows well in Grant Marine Park. The long, narrow leaves are covered in grey hairs. Grey cottonheads is a ‘stilt’plant, as it has an aerial root system supported by prop roots. A butterfly, the silver spotted ochre feeds on this plant.
See more on Florabase.
YellowAugust to February
Corymbia calophyllaMarri or red gumThis beautiful tree can grow to 50 metres and live for 300 years. The bark is grey-brown with rough mosaic-like blocks and the large woody, ‘honkey nut’ fruits remind many of May Gibbs’Gumnut Baby stories. The species name calophylla is Greek for ‘beautiful leaf’. The tree is very important for many birds and insects eg: cockatoos, ring-neck parrots and native bees. Research collected at the WA Museum records observations of 16 species of native bee visiting marri flowers.
See more on Florabase.
Large clusters of white, creamy-white or rarely pinkDecember to April
Corynotheca micranthaSand lily This leafless, tangled perennial herb probably grows at only one place in Cottesloe – on the edge of the Seaview Golf course. The branches have a forked habit.
See more on Florabase.
White, pink, purple, or creamJune to January
Dianella revolutaFlax-lilyA perennial herb that spreads by rhizomes and grows on sand or limestone. The flowers are designed to be pollinated by native bees such as the blue-banded bee. The bee holds the anther and buzzes, to shake out the pollen over itself. The fruits are purple berries.
See more on Florabase.
Blue, purple, rarely whiteSeptember to December
Enchylaena tomentosaRuby saltbushA sprawling prostrate plant which has orange-red berries and fine hairs on the leaves. It can tolerate saline soil.
See more on Florabase.
YellowMay to September
Eremophila glabra Tar bushThe genus name is derived from Greek and Latin and indicates a plant that is desert loving. The species name indicates the smooth rather than hairy leaves. Tar bush is a low shrub that grows on sand or limestone. Only a few naturally occuring plants remain in Cottesloe.
See more on Florabase.
Yellow, orange, red, brownMarch to December
Eucalyptus gomphocephala TuartThe largest tree on Perth’s coastal plain, growing to 30 m high, on white sand and sand over limestone. The bark is finely fibrous and grey to white, the fruits are bell shaped. Trees can fork into spreading branches. Hollows in old trees are used by red-capped parrots and dead hollow trunks provide habitat for kestrels, kingfishers, bats, ringneck parrots, and brushtail possums. Insects and lizards use the bark and shiny greyish-green leaves. Baudin’s black cockatoo chews the bark to reach grubs.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteDecember to April
Ficinia nodosaKnotted club-rushA tufted perennial sedge with rigid cylindrical stems to 1m high. The flowers are clustered in a brown spikey ball which remains on the plant for a long time. Long fibrous roots aid in holding mobile sand.
See more on Florabase.
BrownAugust to April
Frankenia paucifloraSea-heathA small spreading shrub that is salt tolerant and has adapted to harsh conditions. It can grow between limestone rocks overhanging the ocean. Some plants have gnarled woody branches; the small and delicate flowers are white or pink.
See more on Florabase.
White or pinkMost of the year
Grevillea crithmifoliaGrevillea crithmifoliaA spreading dense shrub that may be prostrate or up to 2m high. It grows on dunes or in sand over limestone. The brown warty fruit is a follicle with two winged seeds. These grevillea flowers are designed for insect pollination, whereas many species with red or orange flowers attract birds with their nectar. Butterflies such as the painted lady sip nectar from the flowers.
See more on Florabase.
White or tinged pink June to November
Grevillea preissii Spider-net grevilleaA spreading shrub to 1.5 m. In Cottesloe remnant plants are found in ridge vegetation on sand over coastal limestone. The fruits are smooth. Honey-eating birds sip nectar from the flowers. Photo shows a baby bobtail sheltering under the grevillea.
See more on Florabase.
RedJune to September
Hakea lissocarphaHoneybushA prickly shrub that grows to 2m, well back from the beach on sand over limestone. The clustered flowers are honey perfumed and provide a good pollen source for bees. Cockatoos extract seeds from the grey woody fruits.
See more on Florabase.
White, cream, yellow, pinkJune to September
Hakea prostrataHarsh hakeaOne local form is prostrate, growing on sand over limestone, but other plants are erect to 5m. The large leaves have prickly points. Clusters of flowers were used by Aborigines as a source of nectar. The woody fruits are spiked. Native bees visit the flowers for pollen and nectar.
See more on Florabase.
White, creamAugust to October
Hardenbergia comptoniana Native wisteriaA vigorous climbing plant with cylindrical fruit, found at Grant Marine Park and other sites. The firm 10 mm long pods pop open on hot summer days. Ants are attracted to the white 'fat bodies' around the seeds; they collect and bury the seeds so increasing the plants’ dispersal.
See more on Florabase.
Blue, purpleJune to October
Hemiandra pungensSnakebushA shrub that locally is prostrate. At Grant Marine Park some plants spread over several metres on a sloping sand dune.The Latin species name, refers to the spiny tips of the rigid leaves. The pretty flowers have dark spots in the corolla throat.
See more on Florabase.
white, blue, purple, pinkMost of the year
Hibbertia hypericoidesCommon buttercupsUnfortunately the common buttercups is no longer common in Cottesloe. Only a few plants remain at the Cottesloe Native Garden. The shrub can be spreading, or erect to 1 m high. It is very common in the bushland of Kings Park.
See more on Florabase.
YellowApril to December
Jacksonia sericeaJacksonia sericea (waldjumi)This little shrub grows to 60 cm high and only one plant remains in the Cottesloe Native Garden. The mature plant is usually leafless and the greyish stems are flattened. Many species of native bee collect pollen from its pea-flowers.
See more on Florabase.
OrangeNovember to February
Kennedia prostrataRunning postmanA scrambling shrub that grows on sandy, gravelly soils. The red flowers have a yellow eye and the cylindrical hairy fruit turns from green to red to brown. The pea blue, a common small butterfly, breeds on this plant.
See more on Florabase.
RedApril to November
Leschenaultia linarioidesYellow leschenaultia A tangled prostrate shrub with arching branches to 1 m long. Fruits are cylindrical capsules which split into narrow wings. There are very few plants remaining in Cottesloe; it is more common along the path up Melon Hill in Allen Park, Swanbourne.
See more on Florabase.
Yellow and redJune to January
Lepidosperma angustatum Lepidosperma angustatum A rhizomatous, tufted perennial sedge that grows to 45 cm high. It grows on coastal dunes and swales. Not common in Cottesloe. A butterfly, the large brown skipper, breeds on this plant.
See more on Florabase.
BrownOctober to June
Lepidosperma gladiatumCoast sword sedge (kerbein)A common, robust perennial sedge with 25 mm wide leaves to 1.5 m long. Creeping underground rhizomes provided a good source of starch for Aboriginal people. The flowers are closely clustered and have yellow bracts.
See more on Florabase.
BrownNovember to May
Leucophyta browniiCushion bushThe name comes from the Greek leucos (white) and phyto (plant). A small dense plant to 60cm tall, which is covered in woolly white hairs as an adaption to harsh foredune conditions. The tiny fruits have feathery hairs to assist in wind dispersal.
See more on Florabase.
Yellow with white woolly bractsMost of the year
Leucopogon parviflorusCoast beard-heathAn erect shrub to 3 m tall that grows on coastal dunes or sand over limestone. In Cottesloe there are only a few remnant plants, at Cottesloe Native Garden. Clusters of white flowers in spring are followed by round green fruits.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteFebruary to March
June to October
Lomandra maritimaMaritime mat-rushA grass-like perennial herb growing on sand, that has separate male and female plants. The clumps grow to 60cm across. Small flowers are hidden low in the plant at the leaf base and the fruits are brown capsules.
See more on Florabase.
Purple and yellowAugust to November
Macrozamia fraseriSandplain zamia (djiriji)Zamias are palm-like but without a trunk, growing to 3 m high. Flower cones form in the centre of the male and female plants. The female seeds are bright red. Birds eat the seeds. Aboriginal people learnt how to rid the seeds of toxins before using them for food.
See more on Florabase.
September to October
(Plants in fertile state recorded)
Melaleuca huegeliiChenille honeymyrtleA tree or shrub that can grow to 5 m high on sand or limestone cliffs. Some wind and salt pruned plants are very small. The flower spikes have a pleasant scent and the purple buds open into white stamens. The flowers attract many native bees, wasps, butterflies and beetles.
See more on Florabase.
Pink, lilac, purple petalsNovember to January
Melaleuca lanceolataRottnest tea-tree (moonah) A hardy coastal species that grows to 5 m and can develop a dense canopy right down to the ground. The canopy is a protection from sand and salt blasts. The flowers attract native bees and wasps and the trees provide bird habitat. Research collected by the WA Museum shows fifteen species of native bee have been observed collecting pollen and nectar from Rottnest teatrees. A small butterfly, a common grass blue is sipping nectar from a flower in the picture.
See more on Florabase.
White to pale yellowDecember to April
Melaleuca systenaCoast honey-myrtleA very tough, erect to spreading shrub, growing to 1.5 m on coastal stabilised dunes or limestone. This species is one of the 24 species of Melaleuca in the Perth region.
See more on Florabase.
Yellow or whiteAugust to December
Mesomelaena pseudostygiaSemaphore sedgeA tufted perennial sedge that grows on sand and gravel to 75 cm high, in clumps to 50 cm wide. The interesting name is derived from mesos (Greek) middle, melos (Greek) black, pseudo (Latin) false, stygios (Greek) of the styx or nether world.
See more on Florabase.
Brown, black with cream stamensApril to June
Myoporum insulareMyoporum insulare (boobiala)A dense shrub, growing to 5 m high on mobile and stable sand dunes. The large leaves are fleshy and hooked at the apex. The succulent purple fruits are eaten by birds.
See more on Florabase.
White with purple spotsAugust to December
Olearia axillaris Coast daisybushOne of the most common foreshore plants in Cottesloe that grows to 2 m. It derives its silvery-grey colour from the white woolly hairs on its leaves. The leaves have a pleasant scent and it was used as a cooking herb by Willem Vlamingh at Rottnest Island in 1696.
See more on Florabase.
White, cream, yellowJanuary to July
November to December.
Olearia dampieri Subs. dampieri A compact, dense green shrub, to 0.5 m high. Growing on coastal limestone at Mudurup Rocks and identified by the WA Herbarium.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteApril to December
Parietaria debilisPellitoryAn annual herb that grows to 40 cm high, in coastal or limestone areas, in shady spots. Pellitory is one of the few plants on which a migratory butterfly, the yellow admiral, breeds. The admiral detects plants by their scent, and lays its eggs usually on the underside of the leaves. Cottesloe Coastcare is attempting to reintroduce this plant.
See more on Florabase.
White, greenAugust to November
Rhagodia baccataBerry saltbushA common spreading shrub along the Cottesloe foreshore that grows to 2 m high. There are male and female plants and they are salt-tolerant. The deep-red berries are eaten by birds and bobtail lizards. A small butterfly, the saltbush blue, breeds on the plant.
See more on Florabase.
Green - sporadicMarch to June
Santalum acuminatumSweet quandongQuandongs used to grow in Cottesloe and Coastcare volunteers are attempting to reintroduce a few plants to suitable areas. An attractive small tree that can grow to 8 m. Quandong is a semi-parasite growing on the roots of surrounding plants, preferring wattles and sheoaks. One of our larger butterflies, the spotted jezebel, feeds on this plant. Photo shows a seedling.
See more on Florabase.
Green yellow
Red succulent fruit
October to March
Scaevola anchusifoliaSilky scaevolaAn erect or decumbent shrub, growing to 1.5 m high. Coastcare has only discovered one plant remaining in Cottesloe and cuttings have been taken in an effort to reintroduce more plants to the area. Silky scaevola grows on limestone ridges and sand dunes.
See more on Florabase.
Pale blue, white or pink June to November
Scaevola crassifoliaThick-leaved fan-flowerA common Cottesloe foreshore plant with a low spreading habit and thick, serrated, almost circular leaves. It grows well on dunes and on limestone cliffs. Scaevola is a Roman surname given to a man who had his right hand burnt off – used for this genus as the flowers have a one-sided fan shape. Many native bees visit the flowers to collect pollen or to search for a mate.
See more on Florabase.
Pale blue or whiteJuly to February
Schoenus clandestinus Schoenus clandestinus A moss-like,perennial sedge which is tufted and forms mats, only 1-7 cms
tall.
See more on Florabase.
Brown
Schoenus grandiflorusLarge-flowered bog-rushA rhizomatous, tufted perennial sedge that grows to 1.5 m high on coastal sand dunes. Uncommon in Cottesloe but some plants remain at Cottesloe Native Garden.
See more on Florabase.
BrownJanuary
April to June
Senecio condylusCoast groundselA widespread, low, annual, or perennial herb that grows on dunes and in bushland. The slightly fleshy leaves are variable and may be thickened in coastal plants. The fruit is an achene (dry, single-seeded) with white whiskery hairs attached, to assist its wind dispersal. Endemic to Perth's coastal sands.
See more on Florabase.
YellowJuly to December
Sowerbaea laxifloraPurple tasslesA tufted, perennial herb with linear leaves to 30 cm long. A few plants remain in Cottesloe among other Cottesloe limestone species. In the photo Sowerbaea is the purple flower in the left foreground.
See more on Florabase.
PurpleAugust to November
Spinifex hirsutusSatin-leaved spinifexA rhizomatous perennial grass, easily recognised by its broad, flat, silvery, leaves which are hairy on both sides. Not as common along the Cottesloe foreshore as long-leaved spinifex but an important dune stabiliser at the toe of unstable sand dunes.
See more on Florabase.
Green, white, silveryOctober to January
Spinifex longifolius Long-leaved spinifexA perennial grass with male and female plants. Rhizomes spread through the sand forming tussocks which become important dune stabilisers. The whole female flower head can be 250 mm in diameter and when dry, rolls in the wind distributing seeds along the shifting sand.
See more on Florabase.
Green, brownApril to January
Spyridium globulosumBasket bushThe botanical name comes from the Greek for basket, spyridion – as the tiny flower heads are surrounded by leafy bracts. This shrub can grow to 5m high but is often kept low by salt winds. The undersurface of the green leaves is covered with woolly white hairs.
See more on Florabase.
WhiteJune to November
Templetonia retusaCockies’ tonguesA shrub with many branches that grows on limestone, to 4 m high in a protected position. The bright red flowers give the impression of a cocky's tongue. The pea-pod is leathery, flat and ribbed. It is common around the salt lakes on Rottnest Island.
See more on Florabase.
Red, rarely yellow or whiteApril to September
Threlkeldia diffusaWallaby saltbushA small low growing much-branched perennial herb which is found on mobile dunes. The leaves are fleshy and the succulent red, bird attracting fruit, turns black, when mature.
See more on Florabase.
Green, mainlyAugust to January
Thysanotus arenariusSand-dune fringed lilyA tufted perennial herb that has rhizomes. Very few plants remain among limestone vegetation in Cottesloe. Each flower lasts only a day and is usually closed by early afternoon. Fruits are papery capsules.
See more on Florabase.
PurpleMay
October to December
Tricoryne elatiorYellow lilyA low growing, rhizomatous, perennial herb which has very recently disappeared from remnant heath in Cottesloe, due to infestation of a troublesome weed – Ferraria crispa or black flag. In photo - yellow lily in foreground.
See more on Florabase.
YellowJanuary to December
Xanthorrhoea preissii Grasstree (balga)A few of these beautiful plants remain in Cottesloe, particularly at Cottesloe Native Garden. The trunks grow to 5m high and the densely packed tall flower spikes provide nectar for insects, native bees, birds, and butterflies - including the Australian painted lady.
See more on Florabase.
White, creamJanuary to November

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