Grevillea macleayana

Jervis Bay Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

A spreading to erect shrub to 4 metres high, usually with a broad spread, to 4 metres.

It occurs solely on the N.S.W. South Coast, mainly around Jervis Bay and extending patchily west of Nowra to Bundanoon and south to Ulladulla, with a remote location further south in Deua National Park.

Grows usually in open shrubby woodland or heath in coastal sands, or occasionally in wet sclerophyll forest in sandy clay or loamy soils.

Leaves are alternate along the stems, variable in length, to 30 cm long about 12 cm wide, entire or (in Deua National Park) with several lobes up to 5 cm long, with margins flat or slightly curved down, and the lower surface densely covered with curled 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, to 10 cm long, with mixed colours of greenish-white / grey-brown and pink. Flowers occur all year.

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 perianth is greenish-white to grey-brown, hairy outside and hairless inside. The carpels are pink-red to red and up to 3 cm long.

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

In the garden

This plant has been cultivated for some time and is a popular desired grevillea although may be hard to source due to stocking preferences of nurseries.

An ideal plant for the garden preferring full sun and it grows quickly, tolerates some neglect with minimal watering can be pruned as a hedge. It tolerates frost and is very good as a bird attractor. Useful in an open spot where it can spread out. It prefers a sandy soil but is reported to be hardy on a range of soils. Prune periodically and precisely to encourage a desired shape and promote flowering. A very attractive grevillea to grow.


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

Very closely related to G. barklyana (see under that species for differences) and classed as a subspecies of that taxon until recently.

Three forms of this species are distinguished:
• The ‘coastal form’ occurs from Jervis Bay to Ulladulla in sandy coastal heath and woodland; it is usually a spreading shrub with entire (or very rarely a few lobed) leaves;
• A semi-prostrate variant occurs near Ulladulla. The ‘woolly form’, known from very few collections, occurs to the W of Nowra and near Bundanoon; it has slightly more frequent leaf lobing;
• The ‘Deua form’ is known from a small population in Deua National Park; it has long, more frequently lobed leaves.

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 bank 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.

macleayana – originally proposed as a species name by J.H. Maiden in honour of William Macleay (1820-1891), a Scottish-Australian politician, naturalist, zoologist, and herpetologist who was a strong supporter of science.

This species is not considered at risk of extinction in the wild but recognised as rare (as G. barklyana subsp. macleayana) in J.D.Briggs & J.H.Leigh, Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (1995).

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

Australian National Herbarium – Grevillea macleayana profile page          https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/interns-2002/grevillea-macleayana.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