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A stout, much-branched evergreen shrub; young shoots clothed with a felt of rusty-brown, forked hairs. Leaves alternate, oval, ovate, pointed or blunt, mostly tapered at the base but sometimes rounded or slightly heart-shaped, with four to six shallow teeth on each margin or almost entire, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, about half as wide, dark green and rough to the touch above, clothed beneath with a felt of forked hairs similar to that which covers the branchlets; stalk 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long. Flower-heads in a terminal panicle of sometimes nine to a dozen, each head 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide. Ray-florets numerous, linear, often notched at the end, pale rose-coloured. Disk-florets forming a compact yellow centre 1⁄3 in. wide. Outer scales of flower-head linear, pointed, clothed with a red-brown felt like that of the other parts, very numerous in several rows and forming an ovoid involucre nearly 1⁄2 in. wide. Achenes pilose. Bot. Mag., t. 5973, as O. dentata.
Native of E. Australia, and suitable only for the milder parts of our islands. It has long been cultivated and was raised in Lee and Kennedy’s nursery at Hammersmith in 1793 and flowered there a few years later. It has been grown at Tresco Abbey in Scilly since the middle of last century and Sir Joseph Hooker records the existence of a fine bush there in 1872. The true plant is now very rare. It is certainly one of the most beautiful of the olearias, for few of them have flower-heads combining size, pretty colouring, and number to such an extent. The flowering season is apparently an extended one and I have seen specimens collected in March and July. Andrews, who figured the plant in his Botanist’s Repository, t. 61, gives the flowering season as extending from December to August.
This species has been the subject of a great deal of nomenclatural confusion. It was first described as Aster dentatus Andr., but the epithet could not be used for this plant in Olearia because of the previous existence of O. dentata Moench, itself a superfluous name for Aster tomentosus Wendl. The plant so named by Wendland is the olearia O. tomentosa (Wendl.) DC. ex Steud., an allied species distinguished from O. rotundifolia by its glabrous (not pilose) achenes. Unfortunately, the name O. tomentosa has long been erroneously applied to the present plant, for which O. rotundijolia appears to be the correct name.
The very different O. dentata Hook. f. (not of Moench) is now correctly known as O. macrodonta Baker (q.v.).