Callistemon pallidus

Lemon Bottlebrush

Family: Myrtaceae

A large shrub with slender spreading branches, growing to a height of 5 metres by 2 metres across.

It is common on wet, rocky sites of the eastern ranges and occurs naturally in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania. In the ACT, it is a dominant species in heath on exposed mountain slopes. It grows primarily on the coast and tablelands regions of NSW.

Callistemon spp. have simple and alternate to spiral leaves. In this species, the grey-green leaves are tapered to 5 cm long to about 1 cm wide and dotted with oil glands.

In Callistemon species, flowers are usually arranged in spikes (the “bottlebrush”) which are produced at the terminals but which the stem then grows past, into a leafy shoot. Flowers have five small circular sepals and five circular petals which persist on the flowers. Like many other Myrtaceae genera, the flowers are conspicuously staminate with each flower having many stamens surrounding one carpel. The stamens are typically free although may be fused at the basal parts (a generally useful identifying feature for the genus to distinguish it from Melaleuca). The pedicels of the flowers are very short. In this species, lemon-coloured flowers are borne in profuse spikes to 10 cm long, occurring from September to January.

Capsules are to 6 mm diameter, arranged in the same spike-like structure along branches. Callistemon spp. have the condition where leafy growth extends beyond the flower/fruiting spike.

In the garden

This species is known to grow well and is hardy. (It reportedly does very well when grown in the south of England as well). It is suited to most soils and a good hedge plant. Needs full sun to flower and grow best.

Prune after flowering to encourage a denser plant with more flowers the follwoing season. Give some water in hot and dry times. Fertilise after flowering with an appropriate native fertiliser.


Propagation is easy from both seed and cuttings.

Other information

The genus Callistemon has been subject to recent taxonomic revision with early and recent botanists including Ferdinand von Mueller and Lyndley Craven (deceased in 2014) proposing to ‘lump’ the genus into Melaleuca and others. Craven et al. (2014) published new species combinations which included the renaming of all Callistemon species to Melaleuca, based on evolutionary relationships and DNA evidence and other features.

Currently, the NSW Herbarium advises that the Callistemon genus can still be used. There are currently about 30 species of Callistemon, which are found in all states of Australia as well as New Caledonia. About 28 are endemic to Australia. NSW currently recognises 24 species. New species have been described in the last 20 years.

Regenerates after fire from epicormic and basal shoots as well as from the seedbank.

Callistemon – From the Ancient Greek – Callos (κάλλος) – meaning “beautiful” (which is changed to κάλλη to describe a noun) and and stêma (στῆμα) meaning “stamen”, referring to the very showy staminate flowers of the bottle-brush inflorescences.

pallida – Latin meaning “pale” – referring to the light, lemon-coloured inflorescences.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

Australian National Herbarium – Callistemon pallidus plant profile https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp14/callistemon-pallidus.html

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Callistemon pallidus plant profile

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke