Grevillea laurifolia

Laurel-leaf Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

A genuine prostrate shrub, to 4 metres or more in diameter and only about 0.1 m tall, which forms a groundcover.

It is endemic to NSW and found naturally in the Blue Mountains and on the ranges from the Newnes Plateau to the Wombeyan Caves (mostly near central coast and tablelands boundary).

It grows in open dry sclerophyll woodland or forest, on ridges and slopes in sandy to clayey soils on sandstone where it can create a strong groundcover.

Leaves are alternate along the stems, ovate to oblong or elliptic, sometimes cordate, to 12 cm long and to 6 cm wide; margins entire to crenulate (finely- toothed); lower surface often with silky 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 mostly produce the inflorescences at the terminals, beyond the foliage, which differs to the closely related Hakea.

This species is a “tooth-brush” type with light red to maroon inflorescences, to 8 cm long, appearing predominantly in winter and spring.

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 perianth is hairy outside and hairless inside. The carpels are up to 25 mm long and red.

The fruit is a follicle, with red-brown stripes or blotches.

In the garden

A vigorous plant that is reasonably widely cultivated but can be unreliable at low elevations.

It prefers a sunny position and is tolerant of heavy frosts.

It makes an effective groundcover or used as a spill-over in rocky areas.

A very unusual grevillea, so it will create some interest and the inflorescences have an attractive colour. Allow good drainage, sandy soils are likely best. Plant in full sun for best results.

There are some cultivars available which have this species has one of the parents. Eg: Grevillea ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ (see notes below)

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

Natural hybrids with G. acanthifolia are common where both species occur together in the Blue Mountains. The hybrid is known as G. x gaudichaudii.

Grevillea laurifolia has been used as a parent for many cultivated hybrids which retain the trailing groundcover form. ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ is the most popular.

Likely regenerates from seedbank after fire but may have suckering capabilities.

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”.

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.

laurifolia – Latin – having leaves similar to the species of the genus Laurus (the Laurels).

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

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Grevillea laurifolia profile page

Australian National Herbarium – Grevillea ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp9/grevillea-poorinda-rm.html

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

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