Grevillea aspleniifolia

Fern-leaved Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

No formal common name but referred to as ‘Fern-leaved Grevillea’.

A spreading shrub to 3 m high and 4 m wide that is endemic to New South Wales. It is found naturally between about Bowral and Katoomba, with a few records further south including near Bungonia Caves. It is common west and south of the Lake Burragorang area and can be seen growing along the roadside near Yerranderie. It typically occurs in rocky eucalypt woodland on shale or sandstone.

Leaves are alternate up the stems, to 25 cm long, and to 2 cm wide, with margins entire to coarsely toothed and lower surface tomentose with crinkled hairs.

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

This species has tooth-brush racemes which are mostly red to pink, to 8 cm long, appearing from July to November. 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, the carpels (the innermost whorl of a flower) are to 25 mm long, pinkish, with a green tip.

The follicle is hairy with reddish-brown stripes or blotches.

In the garden

Not overly common in cultivation but it is sold online. It is a very attractive grevillea and very similar to G. longifolia. It spreads laterally and can reach at least 4 m wide, so allow some room to spread. It can be pruned to keep growth in check and promote flowering. Can likely take a sandy or heavier soil so long as drainage is adequate. Plant in full sun. Reported to be a fast growing, hardy plant. The foliage is very attractive as is the foliage.

In a garden situation, Grevilleas are good bird-attracting plants.


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

Often confused with G. longifolia which is far more commonly cultivated. G. longifolia leaves are often wider and there are smaller distances between the leaf teeth (less than 1 cm). The teeth also have a more shallow intrusion towards the midvein.

Grevillea is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants native to rainforest and more open habitats in Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Sulawesi and other Indonesian islands east of the Wallace Line. NSW currently has about 85 species although with a lot of subspecies and some informal taxa recognised.

Grevillea flowers were a traditional favourite among First Nations Peoples 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”.

Most Grevillea species will regenerate from seed after fire but can produce coppicing shoots.

Grevilleawas 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.

aspleniifolia –  meaning, with fine, feathery, fern-like leaves, relating to the fern genus Asplenium.

This species is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild although considered rare by some ecologists.

Plants of South Eastern NSW – Grevillea aspleniifolia profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/grevillea_aspleniifolia.htm

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

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

Wikipedia – Grevillea information page                                                 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke