Grevillea capitellata

Family: Proteaceae

A low dense mounded or prostrate shrub to 0.5 metres high, spreading poetntially to 1 metre wide. It can serve as a groundcovering-shrub.

It occurs over a restricted area in the south of the Sydney Basin and northern Illawarra, bounded between Cordeaux Dam, Cataract Dam, Bulli and Mt Ousley in N.S.W.

It is found in wet areas – such as boggy depressions, swamp edges, or rock pockets in pavement that are frequently moist, in sandy soils over sandstone or ironstone (laterite).

Leaves are alternate along the stems, to 9 cm long and to just less than 1 cm wide, margins entire and abruptly bent down, upper surface sparingly dotted, lower surface hairy. The leaves have a generally elliptic to lanceolate shape.

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

This species is another of the spider-flowers (although some inflorescences can look almost tooth-brush in shape), which are dull deep-crimson to black-maroon, hairy outside, white-bearded inside. They are erect and held at ground level at the edge of, or, under the foliage.

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.
The carpels are mostly to 12 mm long with the style maroon, strongly curved towards the tip.

The fruit is a follicle, without hairs.

In the garden

Not a lot of information is currently reported about this particular grevillea and even website information is in short supply. It is likely not cultivated but it could be trialled as a groundcovering-shrub. It grows naturally in wet areas and so may not take well to cultivation.

Plants may be hard to source. Likely needs a sandy soil to do well. Check with native nurseries for availability.

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

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.

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.

capitellata – Latin meaning “with a little head”, referring to the terminal heads of flowers (likely not a very useful name as many grevilleas display this trait).

This species is not considered at risk of extinction in the wild, although it has a very restricted distribution.

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

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – Grevillea capitellata profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/grevillea_capitellata.htm

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.