Grevillea acerata

Family: Proteaceae

Grevillea acerata is a short shrub that is usually about 1 metre tall (can get to 1.3 m but usually smaller).

It has a very small natural distribution in NSW, only found on the Northern Tablelands-North Coast boundary, in the Gibraltar Range National Park, just north of a line between Grafton and Glen Innes.

It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland and heath, usually on granite substrate.

Leaves are alternate along the stems, mid to dark-green, linear to narrow-elliptic, to 30 mm long and 2 mm wide, and whitish below. Each leaf is crowned with a prickly point or mucro. Young growth is light green.

A grevillea inflorescence is technically a cluster of paired flowers, termed a conflorescence with the overall structure forming a raceme-like appearance. Grevillea species exhibit 3 main inflorescence structures:
1. A cylindrical to ovoid raceme (with flowers emerging around a 360° radius)
2. A single-sided raceme (with flowers produced on only one side, resembling a tooth-brush)
3. A condensed or clustered raceme (usually as long as it is wide, with species referred to as the spider-flowers).

Grevillea produce the inflorescences mostly at the terminals, beyond the foliage, which differs to the closely related Hakea.

This species is a spider-flower, with clusters of flowers carried on the ends of branches. Blooms are hairy and an unusual pale grey-pink and white colour. Flowering is profuse between June and December. Sporadic blooms may appear at other times.

Individual flowers are composed of 1 carpel (female part) where the style and stigma protrude out; 4 stamens hidden away in the perianth; and the perianth (petals and sepals collectively) which connects to a pedicel. Proteaceae flowers do not have any discernible petals or sepals (having only one whorl) and so these are referred to as “tepals” of which there are 4. In this species, flowers are to 1.5 cm long, with grey-pink and white tones.

The fruit is a follicle, hairless, up to 1 cm long, without dark blotches.

In the garden

This plant is known to be cultivated. It can be grown on a well-draining acidic soil. May be suited to rocky areas and upper slopes.

Keep plants bushy and blooming bounteously by regular light pruning.

The flower appearance and colour is similar to the well known hybrid G. “Evelyn’s Coronet”.


Grevilleas are propagated by three principal methods; seed, cuttings and grafting. To maintain desirable characteristics of a particular plant, vegetative propagation (e.g. cuttings or grafting) must be used. This also applies to propagation of named cultivars.

Other information

Grevillea acerata is closely related to Grevillea sphacelata and Grevillea buxifolia. In fact initially G. acerata was included with G. sphacelata. This attractive small plant is a rare species confined to Gibraltar Range National Park, east of Glen Innes on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales.

Most grevilleas regenerate from seed after fire. Some can reshoot from buried rhizomes.

Grevillea flowers were a traditional favourite among First Nations Peoples of Australia for their sweet nectar. This could be shaken onto the hand to enjoy, or into a coolamon with a little water to make a sweet drink. They might be referred to as the original “bush lollies”.

Grevillea is a diverse genus of about 365 species with about 357 occurring in Australia. Some species occur in New Caledonia, Indonesia and New Guinea. NSW currently has about 85 species although with a lot of subspecies and some informal taxa recognised.

Grevillea – was named in honour of Charles Francis Greville, (1749-1809) an 18th-century patron of botany and co-founder of the Royal Horticultural Society. He was also a British antiquarian, collector and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1774 to 1790.

acerata – Greek via Latin – a– meaning ‘without’ or ‘away from’ and kerata (κέρατα) meaning ‘horns’ referring to the lack of the horn-like appearance at the tips of the styles.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. Although it does have a small geographic range.

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

Wikipedia – Grevillea acerata profile page                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea_acerata

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