Grevillea linearifolia

White Spider Flower, Linear-leaf Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

An upright spreading shrub up to about 3 metres high.

It is found naturally, primarily in the Greater Sydney Basin, from Gosford and Putty area to the Parramatta River and Port Jackson, then with disjunct populations near Nowra and Ulladulla as well as Lawson in the Blue Mountains.

It grows in dry sclerophyll forest, woodland and heath, mostly in well-drained semi-shaded to open sites, mostly in sandy soils over sandstone.

Leaves are alternate up the stems, or occasionally in loose whorls of 3, mostly to 9 cm long and to 0.3 cm wide, with margins abruptly bent down. The upper surface is usually dotted and the lower surface partly exposed with appressed 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 spider-flower with white inflorescences, occasionally tinged pink, appearing most of the year. Inflorescences are erect or often curved down, broadly one-sided.

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 extend to 13 mm long, styles are white becoming reddish and hairless.

The fruit is a follicle, about 1 cm long.

In the garden

This is a hardy shrub in most soils and will tolerate some shade. It is available for cultivation from Bushcare nurseries and some online retailers. Likely needs a sandy soil to perform at its best, so best to provide a free-draining soil. Can grow to about 1 m tall and perhaps 1 m wide. Prune to encourage a tidier shape and to encourage flowering. Flowers most of the year if not allowed to dry out.

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 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 grevilleas regenerate from seedbank but coppicing growth can also occur after fire.

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.

linearifolia – from the Latin word linearis meaning ‘linear’ and folius – ‘leaf’ referring to the thin long leaves of this species.

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

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

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 linearifolia profile page                          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea_linearifolia

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke