Grevillea longifolia

Fern-leaved Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

A spreading shrub to 5 metres high and up to 5 metres wide.

It has a small distribution in NSW, growing naturally on Hawkesbury sandstone; chiefly in the southern half of the Sydney Basin and Woronora Plateau; possibly also in the Lawson area of NSW.
It is typically found in moist areas of dry sclerophyll forest, often near creeks.

It is readily identifiable with its long leaves, which are alternate along the stems, mostly to 25 cm long and to 2 cm wide, margins entire to coarsely toothed, lower surface silky.

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 all the flowers orientated on one side (secund) with pink to dark pink / almost red inflorescences, to about 8 cm long, appearing predominantly from August 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.
The perianth is hairy outside and hairless inside. In this species, carpels are to 25 mm long with red to pink styles.

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

In the garden

This is a very attractive plant and is popular with our members.

Often cultivated as it makes an attractive screening plant. Hardy in most positions. Flowers best in full sun. It can spread as wide as it is high (or even wider) so some careful pruning may be needed. However, pruning appropriately will promote flowering and a nice shape.

Seems to tolerate a variety of soils including clay soils. It can naturalise in bushland areas in some cases from prolific seed so check for this if growing near bushland. Very hardy and easy to grow. It needs some room to spread out and do its best.
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

This species is very similar to Grevillea aspleniifolia, which grows further west in NSW. It has narrower leaves with a different hair appearance underneath and grows on heavier soils.\

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”.

Likely regenerates from seed after fire but may produce coppicing shoots.

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.

longifolia – Latin – longi– meaning long and –folia meaning leaf – capturing its long linear leaves.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild but has a narrow geographic range.

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

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

Australian National Herbarium – Grevillea longifolia profile page          https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp5/gre-long.html

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke