Callistemon citrinus syn: Melaleuca citrina

Crimson Bottlebrush

Family: Myrtaceae

Found naturally in New South Wales, Victoria and southern Queensland, usually in wet or swampy conditions as well as rocky outcrops, mainly on the coast and tablelands.

Leaves oblanceolate to narrow-elliptic, to 7 cm long, and about 1 cm wide, apex usually short-acuminate and pungent, with a lemon odour when crushed.

Flower spikes 6–10 cm long, to 7 cm diameter. Filaments bright red, sometimes purplish red or lilac; anthers dark. Produces woody capsules.

Flowers are produced in late spring, summer and autumn with two flowerings if some moisture is provided.

There are many hybrids produced using this plant as a parent. A popular cultivar is Callistemon ‘Endeavour’ which can have bright metallic red/pink inflorescences.


In the garden

Tolerant of all soil types even badly drained sites, frost hardy.

Birds and bees are attracted to the flowers.

To encourage more flowers next season, prune the top two-thirds from the finished flower. This will also prevent the plant becoming ‘leggy’ due to all the capsules that form after flowering. Can be pruned back hard, even into old wood and will shoot readily. Responds to fertilising.

Needs full sun to maximise flowering.

In some years, the leaves are badly blemished by a tiny scale which causes a blistered appearance and some twisting, as well as some attendant smut. To control this, a spray of white oil and a systemic insecticide can be applied.


Easily propagated from seed or cuttings.

Other information

Some herbaria are calling this species Melaleuca citrina.

Regenerates after fire from epicormic and basal shoots.

Callistemon…from Gk. calli (καλλί) meaning beautiful and stemon; stamens

citrinus…from the Latin citrinus meaning lemon, referring to the scent of the leaves.

Not at risk in the wild.


By Jeff Howes