Callistemon linearis

Narrow-leaf Bottlebrush

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub growing to 3 m high in forests and woodlands from central New South Wales (around Nerriga) to south-east Queensland. It grows on the coast, tablelands, western slopes and plains of NSW.

Leaves linear, to 10 cm long, and to 3 mm wide.

Inflorescences are spikes to 10 cm long, mostly to 5 cm diameter. Staminal filaments c. 20–25 mm long, pale red; anthers dark.

Fruits are capsules c. 7 mm diam

The obvious parts of the flower masses are the stamens, with the pollen at the tip of the filament; the petals are inconspicuous. Flower heads vary in colour with species; most are red, but some are yellow, green, orange or white. Each flower head produces a profusion of triple-celled seed capsules around a stem which remain on the plant with the seeds enclosed until stimulated to open when the plant dies or fire causes the release of the seeds. A few species release the seeds annually.

In the garden

The plant responds to annual fertilising after flowering and may be pruned severely if necessary. Many callistemons can tolerate less than perfect drainage but usually perform best in gardens with reasonable drainage and regular availability of water. Can be prone to saw-fly larvae.

Prune 2/3rds off spent flower to encourage prolific growth and reduce woody stems.

Propagation is easy from both seed and cuttings.


Other information

Can regenerate from seedbank after fire. Most bottlebrushes exhibit reshooting from branches and stems as well as from basal areas of stems and trunks after fire and pruning.

Callistemon…from the combination of 2 Greek words of ‘kallis’ meaning beauty and ‘stemon’ meaning stamen, referring to the flowers of the plant.
linearis…a reference to the narrow, linear leaves of this species.
Note: there is also a NSW species name C. linearifolius

(This species is regarded as a synonym of Melaleuca linearis. Note that Callistemon linearis, C. pinifolius and C. rigidus are all synonyms of Melaleuca linearis. There is ongoing controversy about whether all Callistemon species should be absorbed into the Melaleuca genus).

Not considered at risk in the wild.


By Jeff Howes