Callistemon serpentinus is known as the Wood’s Reef Bottlebrush and is an upright shrub that may reach a height of four metres. Our specimens are kept to a dense height of two metres by annual pruning. The bark is papery and flaking. Typical bottlebrush leaves average 40 millimetres long by five millimetres wide with visible oil dots.
Yellow flower spikes are about six centimetres long and appear in late spring and early summer. Flower spikes are both prominent and conspicuous. Their colour is not common in the palette of bottlebrush flower colours.
At one stage Callistemon serpentinus was moved to the Melaleucas and became known as Melaleuca serpentina. Due to some botanical uncertainty, the species is now back with the Callistemons.
Callistemon serpentinus is a rare bottlebrush that is found around the Barraba district of northern New South Wales. There is a population around the Wood’s Reef asbestos mine near Barraba. The species is found on serpentine soils; hence the species name.
The Woods Reef Bottlebrush is considered vulnerable because populations are small and may be under threat from agricultural development. There is also a move to clean up the asbestos mine area and this may pose a threat to the species.
Callistemon serpentinus could be grown in hedges and screens together with other varieties.
Propagate from seed and cuttings. There is some evidence that Callistemons may hybridise. If grown with other varieties then propagation should be from cuttings. Cuttings will ensure that this attractive species comes true to type.