Callistemon R.Br.


Greek kallos — beauty, stemon — stamen, referring to the showy brush-like stamens.

Shrubs or small trees with hairy new growth. Leaves alternate, cylindrical to lanceolate or oblanceolate, entire, sometimes sharp-pointed, more or less stalkless. Flower clusters forming spike-like brushes, oblong to cylindrical, terminal at first, then the axis growing into a leafy shoot. Flowers 5-parted. Petals more or less round, longer than the roundish sepals. Stamens numerous, longer than the petals, free (rarely shortly united at the base), anthers versatile. Ovary half-inferior, 3-4-chambered. Fruit a woody capsule; seeds numerous.

Grown for the spectacular bottlebrush flower spikes.A popular genus in cultivation overseas as well as in Australia. It was among the earliest and most popular introductions to Europe and several species were first described from specimens grown in gardens in Europe. Many cultivars have been selected for use as parkland and street trees as well as the private garden.

The free stamens are the single character used to distinguish this genus from Melaleuca and, as the stamens are united in 2 species (C. glaucus and C. viminalis), this distinction is somewhat blurred.

Less commonly cultivated species include the following: C. comboynensis Cheel, Cliff Bottlebrush, from Qld and NSW, a medium straggly shrub with red to purplish flowers; C. glaucus (Bonpl.) Sw., Albany Bottlebrush, from WA, a robust shrub with large leaves and red flower spikes to 15 cm or so long. Syn. C. speciosus (Sims) DC.; C. linearis (Schrader &Wendl.) Sw., Narrow-leaved Bottlebrush, from NSW, a medium shrub with narrow leaves and red spikes; C. montanus S.T. Blake, Mountain Bottlebrush, from Qld and NSW, a small to medium shrub with bright red flowers; C. pachyphyllus Cheel, Wallum Bottlebrush, from Qld and NSW, a stiff shrub with narrowly obovate leaves and red flowers; C. pearsonii R.D. Spencer & Lumley, Rainbow Bottlebrush, from Qld, a small shrub with formal leaves like C. subulatus but flowers with bright yellow anthers; C. phoeniceus Lindl., Lesser Bottlebrush, from WA, a medium shrub with deep red flowers and dark anthers; C. pinifolius (Wendl.) Sw., Pine-leaved Bottlebrush, from NSW, a spreading to upright shrub with long pine-like leaves and bright red flowers; C. rigidus R. Br., Stiff Bottlebrush, from NSW, a medium shrub with narrow, straight leaves and red flowers; and C. viridiflorus (Sims) Sw., Green Bottlebrush, from Tas, a small to medium shrub with greenish yellow flowers and short leaves.

About 30 species endemic to Australia and present in all states but mainly along the E coastal belt.

Seed or cuttings.

Flowers arranged in brush-like spikes; stamens free, cf. Melaleuca.

Elliot & Jones (1982),Wrigley & Fagg (1993). Both have detailed sections on cultivars.

Source: Spencer, R. (2002). Myrtaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 3. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 2. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Myrtales
family       Myrtaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Callistemon citrinus (Curtis) Skeels
species         Callistemon pallidus (Bonpl.) D C.
species         Callistemon pityoides F.Muell.
species         Callistemon rugulosus (Link) D C.
species         Callistemon salignus (Sm.) Sw.
species         Callistemon sieberi D C.
species         Callistemon subulatus Cheel