Scientific Name: Correa spp.
Common Names: Australian Fuchsia
Plant Type: Shrub
Environment: Well-drained soil, thrives in both sun and shade and does well in a coastal Mediterranean climate.
Bloom: October to April
Uses: Works well as a perennial border, can be used to fill in spaces beneath other plants, and makes an excellent container plant
Other: Member of the Rutaceae family which also includes citrus. The leaves of all members of this family are glandular punctate, which can be seen with a hand lens as tiny white dots when held up to a light. Botany Bay, the first location where Joseph Banks collected Correa, was originally called Botanist Harbour by Captain James Cook.
Correa was first discovered in 1770 by Joseph Banks on the expedition to Botany Bay in Australia. It was named after the Portuguese philosopher and botanist, Jose Correia de Serra. There are 11 species, including three varieties and many cultivars. The opposite leaves are small, oval to rounded, two to seven centimeters long with the underside slightly felted and a shiny or matte upper surface. Their fuchsia-like flowers range from tubular to bell-shaped, and are formed by the fusion of four petals with the tips sometimes reflexed or curved outwards. The flowers are axillary (arise on the side) or terminal (arise at the tip) of the branches and can be solitary or in groups of three. Most Correa have a prolonged winter flowering time from October to April, can withstand temperatures down to 20 degrees and thrive in calcareous chalky soils. Most species need well-drained soil and enjoy full sun but also tolerate shade. They are not susceptible to disease and are quite drought-tolerant. In Australia they attract many birds as pollinators including honeyeaters. Many bicolored correas present a special color combination that attracts birds as pollinators; often orange or red at the base with bright yellow or green at the tips. These color combinations that attract pollinators are found in many other plants including Fuchsia, Erica, and Kniphofia species.
Correa alba var. alba: this is the species that was collected by Banks at Botany Bay. It is quite different from other correas as the white flowers are split, giving the appearance of tiny stars (Bed 60A).
Correa backhouseana: endemic to Tasmania, this is a large shrub reaching up to 12 feet in height and width. The color of the pendulous tubular flowers varies from cream to pale green. The hybrid 'Ivory Bells' has ivory and tan flowers and originated in San Francisco (Bed 75B).
Correa pulchella: Often found growing on the Australian coastline at the base of certain Eucalyptus, the striking flowers vary from orange-pink to a deep pink. The plants can range from prostrate to upright shrubs up to three feet (Bed 59C). The cultivar 'Dusky Bells' is a dense groundcover with pink flowers (Bed 65). Another cultivar 'Wyn's Wonder' has gold variegated leaves with a uniform pink flower and this contrasting combination is one the most striking of the correas in the Garden (Bed 75A).
Correa 'Carpenter's Rocks': Short tubular flowers that are bright red with pale yellow tips. This is one of the more vibrant floral color combinations of this genus in the Garden (Bed 64C).
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Docent Joanne Taylor and visitors James Gaither and Eric Hunt; text and profile by Associate Curator David Kruse-Pickler