Stirlingia is a WA native that is mostly bush-harvested and is often dyed. Bunches consist of a long thin stem, with no leaves and with several branches at the top. Each branch contains several flowers with 4 petals or clusters of hairy fruits, sometimes called ‘bobbles’. Bobbles have a rounded, spiky appearance, and are found on all branches in quality bunches. In fresh bunches, bobbles appear to have have a blue-grey colour in the centre surrounded by white hairs. Stirlingia is most commonly sold with fruits rather than flowers as the flowers are relatively delicate. In fresh branches the flowers are red or yellow, but these are only seen in spring. Dyed stirlingia is available throughout the rest of the year. Common colours are red, blue yellow/orange and green. Dying is usually done by immersing the flowers and fruit in a dye, rather than by dye uptake through the stem.
They are grown almost entirely in WA, where they have been harvested from the bush for many years. Recently the WA Department of Agriculture have been conducting valuable research into establishing Stirlingia as a cultivated crop, which should see pressure on bush stands reduced.
What to look for
- Round ‘bobbles’ on all branches with an even distribution;
- Avoid bunches with missing bobbles, bobbles with clearly visible black dots in them, or uneven dye colour;
- Shake bunches and avoid those with bobble drop.
- Keep cool at all times.
- Split bunches and wash stem ends.
- Recut at least 2 cm off each stem with sharp secateurs and place in water immediately.
- Do not smash or split stems.
- Preservative is essential – this will help maintain fresh leaves and flowers.
- Replace water every day.
- Dyed bunches: do not place in water.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
Like many WA flowers used in the cut flower trade, Stirlingia is very hard to germinated from seed, and requires smoke treatment. In nature this occurs during a bushfire. Other popular native flowers that need smoke to germinate are: Geleznowia, Conospermum, Eriostemon, Grevillea, Verticordia and Pimelea.
Botanical Name: Stirlingia latifolia
Common Names: Blueboy, Stirlingia
Stem Length: 60 to 90 cm
Country of Origin: Australia
Available Colours: Blue, Green, Orange, Red, Yellow