Callistemon pinifolius

Pine-leaved Bottlebrush

Family: Myrtaceae

Callistemon pinifolius, the Pine-leaved Bottlebrush, is an open shrub that reaches a height of 4 metres in the wild with a spread up to 4 metres.

Callistemon pinifolius is found in two main areas which are somewhat disjunct; the Sydney region and also the Central Western Slopes of New South Wales.

Callistemon spp. have simple and alternate to spiral leaves. In this species, the leaves are narrow, to 10 cm long by only 0.2 cm wide, with a sharp point; dark green in colour.

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. The spikes of this species may be bright lime-green or red, up to 8 cm long. The lime-green form is an unusual colour. Blooms appear in late spring.

Capsules are to 6 mm diameter, arranged in the same spike-like structure along branches.

In the garden

This is a bottlebrush with a long history of cultivation and it is hardy.

Author’s note: In our cold climate garden, both colour forms have proved to be free flowering, hardy as well as drought and frost resistant.

An interesting informal hedge could be created by planting alternate colour forms.

It is best planted in full sun with reasonable drainage on sandy to clayey soils. Prune after flowering to create a dense shrub and promote more flowers the following season. Also fertilise after flowering with a suitable native fertiliser.


Propagate from seeds and cuttings. Both colour forms appear to come true from seed.

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. Note that Callistemon linearisC. pinifolius and C. rigidus are all synonyms of Melaleuca linearis.

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.

pinifolius – Latin – pini – referring to the genus of pines, Pinus, and –folius meaning “leaves” – capturing the very pine-like foliage of the species.

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Callistemon pinifolius profile page      https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Callistemon~pinifolius

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

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Callistemon pinifolius profile page  https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/callistemon-pinifolius-syn-melaleuca-linearis/

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke