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Genus Callistemon Family Myrtaceae
Common Name: Bottlebrushes

Description: Shrubs or small trees; new growth villous.

Leaves alternate, terete to lanceolate or oblanceolate, margins entire, apex ± acute, sometimes pungent; ± sessile.

Inflorescences oblong to cylindric spikes; at first terminal then axis usually growing into a leafy shoot. Flowers 5-merous. Hypanthium urceolate to campanulate. Sepals circular. Petals circular, exceeding the sepals. Stamens numerous, exceeding petals, free or rarely shortly united at base; filaments usually glabrous; anthers versatile. Ovary 3- or 4-locular, half-inferior; style with capitate stigma.

Fruit a woody capsule opening loculicidally, 3- or 4-valved, often persistent on stem and enlarging for many years; seeds numerous.

Photo © ANBG


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 30 species, Australia, N. Cal. Australia: c. 26 species (endemic), all States.

Some species readily hybridize, and as a result it is often difficult to identify these specimens satisfactorily. A number of cultivars are widely grown in gardens, and these are also difficult to assign to a taxon with certainty. Spike dimensions are when flowers are fully open. Fruit dimensions are of mature capsules, after 1–2 years.

Text by R. D. Spencer & P. F. Lumley
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Callistemon formosus,    Callistemon megalongensis,    Callistemon pungens,    Callistemon purpurascens,    Callistemon sabrina,    Callistemon serpentinus

 Key to the species 
1Leaves less than 3 mm wide2
Leaves more than 3 mm wide7
2Leaves less than 4 cm long3
Leaves more than 4 cm long
                       Back to 1
3Flowers red4
Flowers yellow
                       Back to 2
4Leaves needle-like, mostly less than 1 mm diam.; spikes 2–3 cm diam.; species of inland plainsCallistemon brachyandrus
Leaves flat to subulate, mostly 0.75–3 mm wide; spikes 4–5 cm diam.; species of coastal and tableland districts
                       Back to 3
Callistemon subulatus
5Branches stiff; leaves 1–2(–3.2) cm long, 0.75–1.5 mm diam.; mainly on the tablelands in boggy heathlandCallistemon pityoides
Branches flexuous; leaves 2–5 cm long, 2–5 mm wide; widespread along watercourses, creekbeds and gullies
                       Back to 3
Callistemon sieberi
6Flowers yellow-green or rarely red; leaves terete or channelled, rough with oil glandsCallistemon pinifolius
Flowers red; leaves flat or channelled, not or scarcely rough
                       Back to 2
Callistemon linearis
7Flowers yellow or green8
Flowers red, pink or lilac
                       Back to 1
8Fruit less than 5.5 mm diam9
Fruit more than 5.5 mm diam
                       Back to 7
9Spikes mostly 3–3.5 cm diam., occasionally more10
Spikes less than 3 cm diam
                       Back to 8
10Bark mostly soft and papery; leaves willow-like, narrowly rhomboidalCallistemon salignus
Bark hard; leaves not willow-like, elliptic to oblanceolate
                       Back to 9
Callistemon pallidus
11Leaves 6–8 mm wide, broadest below the middle, margins usually recurved; spikes c. 2 cm diamCallistemon shiressii
Leaves 2–5 mm wide, mostly broadest above the middle, margins not recurved; spikes usually 2–2.5 cm diam
                       Back to 9
Callistemon sieberi
12Leaves grey-green, smooth, apex abruptly narrowed; Wallum heath and hind dunes of northern coastal districtsCallistemon pachyphyllus
Leaves dark green, rough with oil glands, apex mostly pointed; tableland species, generally in rocky areas
                       Back to 8
Callistemon flavovirens
13Flowers red14
Flowers purple-pink
                       Back to 7
14Stamens fused into a ring at the baseCallistemon viminalis
Stamens free
                       Back to 13
15Leaves more or less linear16
Leaves not linear
                       Back to 14
16Spikes less than 5 cm diam., leafy; fruit less than 6 mm diamCallistemon subulatus
Spikes more than 5 cm diam., not leafy; fruit more than 6 mm diam
                       Back to 15
17Leaves mostly 8–10 cm long, 5–8 mm wideCallistemon linearifolius
Leaves mostly 5–7 cm long, 3–4 mm wide
                       Back to 16
Callistemon rigidus
18Leaves willow-like, narrowly rhomboidal, margins undulateCallistemon acuminatus
Leaves generally broadest above the middle, margins not undulate
                       Back to 15
19Leaves mostly more than 1 cm wideCallistemon comboynensis
Leaves mostly less than 1 cm wide
                       Back to 18
20Leaves with one side almost straight; spikes generally broader than long; fruit 7–8 mm diamCallistemon montanus
Leaves more or less symmetrical; spikes longer than broad; fruit mostly less than 7 mm diam
                       Back to 19
21Leaves abruptly narrowed at apex, veins obscureCallistemon pachyphyllus
Leaves not abruptly narrowed at apex, veins evident
                       Back to 20
Callistemon citrinus
22Leaves more than 5 mm wideCallistemon citrinus
Leaves less than 5 mm wide
                       Back to 13
23Leaves with pronounced pungent point c. 2 mm long; stamens 1.2–1.5 cm longCallistemon pungens subsp. pungens
Leaves with a pungent point c. 1 mm long or less; stamens 0.8–1.0 cm long
                       Back to 22
Callistemon pungens subsp. synoriensis

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