Also known as marsh bottlebrush and river bottlebrush, this broadleaf evergreen shrub is native to Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, Australia, where is grows in and around sphagnum bogs and swamps and along watercourses, usually at altitudes between 3,000′ and 6500′. It is a member of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that also includes clove, allspice, and eucalyptus. Plants grow up to about 3′ tall at high altitudes but to 10′ at lower altitudes, and tend to form dense thickets to the exclusion of other plants. The branches are pendulous and carry alternate to spiral, narrow leaves that are .5-1″ long and sharply pointed. They emerge pale silvery pink, are densely covered with silky hairs when young but turn dark green and loose most of the hairs on the underside with maturity. Dense terminal spikes of creamy yellow flowers, sometimes tinged with pink or green, appear from late spring to early summer and resemble a bottlebrush. The spikes are 2-4″ long and have 10-15 flowers that consist of 32-52 prominent stamens surrounded by inconspicuous petals that drop off as they mature. A leafy shoot grows out of the tip of the spike when flowering is done. The fruit that follows is a small woody capsule. Alpine bottlebrush is more tolerant of frost than most other bottlebrush species and is a very good choice for poor or wet soil. The genus name, Callistemon, comes from the Greek words, κάλλος(kallis) meaning beautiful and στῆμα (stem) meaning stamen, referring to the dominant role of stamens in the flowers. The specific epithet, sieberi, honors Franz Sieber ( 1789 – 1844) Bohemian botanist.

Type: Flowering broadleaf evergreen shrub

Outstanding Feature: Flowers; tolerance of waterlogged soil

Form: Mound

Growth Rate: Rapid at first but slow with maturity

Bloom: Spikes of creamy yellow flowers from late spring to early summer

Size: 3′ tall at high altitudes but to 10′ at lower altitudes

Light: Full sun

Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained, but tolerant of drought and water logged soil

Hardiness: Zones 7-11

Care: Fertilize annually, tip prune frequently and/or prune hard once a year to encourage bushiness

Pests and Diseases: Generally healthy but susceptible to damage by thrips, Callistemon tip moth and sawfly larvae

Propagation: Seed, stem cuttings

Outstanding Selections:

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen