cockies tongues

winter sun on Templetonia retusa

In early winter Templetonia retusa flowers and sets the bush aflame with scarlet, hence the common name Cockies Tongues. This many branched shrub grows in coastal areas on limestone from Shark Bay southwards, to Esperance and into South Australia. [1]

Templetonia retusa in bushland near my house

In winter on the Mandurah train line going to Perth the red patches on Mt Eliza escarpment in Kings Park are Cockies Tongues flowers. I also see its splash of red in a bushland hillside near my house and Star Swamp Bushland Reserve. I didn’t know it grew on coastal dunes until I saw it planted by Coastcare groups. This revegetation returns Cockies Tongues to its natural range, where the sea winds stunt its growth to 1m or less. In sheltered spots it can grow to 4m. [2]

bee feeding on nectar from Templetonia retusa

I planted Cockies Tongues in my garden, not knowing it can be difficult to grow. This June is the second year it’s flowered. Over summer many branches die back and I wonder if I’ve killed another plant (you can see leafless branches in the photo below). Then it flowers and lights up the winter view from my bedroom window. This was a delightful surprise a few weeks ago because I hadn’t noticed the buds.

Templetonia retusa in my garden

Scientific name Templetonia retusa

Common name Cockies Tongues

Flower winter

Growth habit erect shrub

Cultivation easy to grow from seed after soaking in boiling water to soften the hard seed coat. [3] Once planted out may not survive. Cottesloe Coastcare is trying growing on seedlings for another season before planting out to improve survival rate.

Florabase record

fallen flowers in my garden

fallen flowers in my garden



  1. Barrett & Tay (2005) Perth Plants Perth: BGPA
  2. Rippey & Rowland (1995) Plants of the Perth Coast and Islands Perth: UWA Press
  3. Wrigley & Fagg (1998) Australian Native Plants: Propagation, Cultivation and use in Landscaping (4th ed.) Sydney: Reed New Holland

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