Endemic to eastern Australia, this broadleaf evergreen shrub is a member of the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, that also includes clove, allspice, and eucalyptus. Growing from a vigorous root system, plants can reach up to 50′ tall but in the garden usually grow 20-25′. New growth is pinky red while the papery bark is white or grey. The alternate, willow-like leaves are pendulous, 2-3″ long, and emerge pink to copper in color before turning dull green. Spikes of creamy white flowers that resemble bottle brushes appear in the spring. The spikes are 2-3″ long and consist of 10-40 flowers. The flowers have 48-65 long stamens surrounded by tiny petals that fall off as the flower ages, and are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. The fruit that follows is a small woody capsule. Willow bottlebrush is useful for hedges, screens, borders, and foundation plantings, and is a good choice for butterfly, pollinator or bird gardens. 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, salignus, is the Latin word meaning willow, and refers to the appearance of the leaves.

Type: Flowering broadleaf evergreen

Outstanding Feature: Flowers, fragrant leaves and stem

Form: Rounded

Growth Rate: Moderate to rapid

Bloom: Spikes of creamy-white flowers with an abundance of long stamens, in spring

Size: 20-25′ H x 10-15′ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained, acidic; somewhat tolerant of drought and water logged soils

Hardiness: Zones 8-11

Care: Prune to encourage bushier growth

Pests and Diseases: Generally healthy but susceptible to honey fungus, caterpillars and scale

Propagation: Seed, semi-hardwood cuttings

Outstanding Selections:

‘Perth Pink” (bushier than species, pink flowers, and about 10’ tall)

‘Great Balls of Fire’ (2-3′ tall)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen