A Native Cherry Specialist

This moth rested on my verandah for a day.  It turns out to be a female Crexa Moth, Genduara punctigera (thanks to Dave Wolfe for the identification).

genduara_punctigera crexa moth female on frankies kitchen window screen 18 january 2019 bronwyn's photo

18mm long female Crexa Moth on fly screen, photographed by Bronwyn Silver 18th January 2019

genduara punctigera crexa moth on kitchen window screen landscape showing detail of forelegs and antenna by fc 18 january 2019

Detail showing her feathery antenna

Crexa Moth larvae feed exclusively on the semi-parasitic tree Native Cherry, Exocarpos cupressiformis (also known as Cherry Ballart). Native Cherries are common in bushland around Newstead, and the nearest natural stand to my place would be about 1km further up Palmerston Street.

My many attempts to propagate Native Cherry over the decades have only resulted in ONE specimen, which I planted next to the Yellow Gum at my gate so that it can tap into the root system of that big tree for nutrients and water. I will be so delighted if this or any other female Crexa Moth decides to lay eggs on my Native Cherry and I get to watch the whole life cycle!

exocarpos cupressiformis native cherry 50 cm tall, planted nov 2010 photographed 16 january 2019

Native Cherry (in foreground, 50cm tall) planted at base of mature Yellow Gum on the nature strip at Newstead Natives Nursery


5 responses to “A Native Cherry Specialist

  1. O thank you Frances! I so miss my almost daily dose of Natural Newstead and this is a wonderful post as usual.
    I am lucky enough to live in the bush and we have plenty of Cherry Ballarts so now I will be off either alone or accompanied by eager grandchildren who never miss anything, to see what we can see.
    I learn so much from NN.

  2. Thanks Heather! Let us know if you or your grandchildren find any eggs, larvae or adult moths on your Native Cherries.

  3. Hello, I read your email about the moth and the cherry ballart. Thanks for writing it up. I too have tried for many years to grow a Cherry ballart and no success- so far.! I found a nursery lady near Bendigo who said she was successful but would never tell me her secret! So I struggled on unsuccessfully. What can you advise since you are now a success? The area around Seymour, Vic where we live is full of Cherry trees. Thank you John Dalziel

    • francescincotta

      Hello Lesley. I have tried many times to germinate the seed of Native Cherry, to no avail. The few that I have propagated I have done by taking cuttings from the vigorous growth you sometimes find on roadside verges where a grader has damaged the roots of a Native Cherry causing it to sucker. I use a rooting hormone 8g/L Indole Butyric Acid (brand name Clonex) on the cuttings and put them in a mix of 1 part vermiculite:1 part perlite: 1 part fine potting mix. I have put in a thousand cuttings over 23 years but have only struck 10 or so plants this way, with only this one plant surviving more than a few years, so I would not say I have solved the mystery of propagating this species. In an ideal world the Bendigo woman would share the “secret” with other indigenous nurseries so that we can all include this wonderful species in revegetation projects right across the range of the speceis. You might find this article useful: https://wildsoutheast.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/cherry-ballart/

  4. Patrick Kavanagh

    Thanks Frances, a fascinating story!

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