Comesperma ericinum DC.

Heath Milkwort

Prodr. 1: 334 (1824) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Erect slender shrub 30–200 cm high; stems smooth and glabrous to minutely scabrous-pubescent. Leaves elliptic to oblong, 5–15 mm long, 1–4 mm wide, discolorous, glaucous beneath, margins recurved, midrib usually apparent, apex usually produced into a short, recurved point. Flowers pink to magenta, in terminal racemes; raceme axis 1.5–7 cm long; pedicels 3–6 mm long; sepals free, the outer 3 broad-ovate, 1–1.5 mm long, often purplish, wings obovate, 5.5–7.5 mm long, keel yellow-tipped, slightly shorter than wings, broadly hooded and 3-lobed at apex; upper petals c. oblong, subequal to keel, shortly united with it near base. Capsule spathulate, c. 7 mm long, truncate at apex; seeds ellipsoid, 2–3 mm long, dorsally glabrescent, ventrally with a pale, narrow longitudinal flange and silky hairs c. 5 mm long. Flowers Oct.–Dec.

CVU, EGL, EGU, GipP, Gold, HFE, HNF, HSF, MonT, MuM, NIS, OtP, OtR, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VRiv, VVP, WPro. Also Qld, NSW, Tas. Occurs mostly in damp heathland and heathy forest in the lowlands, extending into taller foothill forests (to c. 1000 m) in the eastern and north-eastern ranges. Occurs mostly in damp heathland and heathy forest in the lowlands, extending into taller foothill forest (to c. 1000 m) in the eastern and north-eastern ranges; uncommon west of Melbourne.

Plants of at least some populations emit a strong sarsaparilla-like scent from their roots when exposed.

Source: Walsh, N.G. (1999). Polygalaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 4, Cornaceae to Asteraceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2019-03-15
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Fabales
family Polygalaceae
genus Comesperma
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Comesperma ericinum in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Comesperma ericinum in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Murray Mallee present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Victorian Riverina present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Northern Inland Slopes present native
East Gippsland Lowlands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Wilsons Promontory present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Highlands-Northern Fall present native
Otway Ranges present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Monaro Tablelands present native
Highlands-Far East present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory