Grevillea ‘Moonlight’

(cultivar)

Family: Proteaceae

A cultivar with a very popular history. It is a large, spreading shrub growing to 5 x 4 metres and has a dense, compact habit.

It is reported to be a selected form of Grevillea whiteana. However, there is published genetic data that it is the progeny of a cross between G. banksii and G. whiteana.

Leaves are dark green, to about 15 cm long by 10 cm wide, and strongly divided (pinnatisect) with resulting narrow linear segments. The lower sides are covered with silvery hairs, contrasting strongly from the upper side.

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 cultivar has a cylindrical raceme with inflorescences to about 20 cm long by 8 cm wide. They are bright cream to yellow, and can be produced profusely over most of the year. Inflorescences are grey-green in bud (adding more contrast).

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 to 40 mm long, bright cream to yellow with darker yellow tips. The perianths are cream to light yellow.

In the garden

A very hardy grevillea which has made it very popular in times past. It was one of the first tall-grevillea cultivars. Also very attractive to birds and insects.

Works well as a feature plant, as a stand-alone in a lawn or other landscape, but can also be integrated with other plants. Useful for growing above other shorter evergreen shrubs to create layering and structure, as it will only provide light shade. It flowers all year round (depending on location), which makes it desirable. Tolerates a range of soils, so long as drainage is adequate and will grow in a wide range of climates. Plant in full sun or part shade. Frost tolerant.

Members report: it does not need or receive additional watering and can be pruned back very hard and it will re shoot. If cutting into hard old wood, do so in late autumn and give the plant a good watering to ensure success. Prune off dead flower heads and apply strategic pruning to shape and promote flowering.

It is reportedly an excellent cut flower. Harvest when buds are just starting to open.

Propagation

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”.

This cultivar is very similar to several other cultivars which have been known to cause allergic contact dermatitis for certain individuals who come into contact with it, so caution is advised.

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.

Moonlight’ – named for the colour of the inflorescences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea
https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/grevillea-moonlight-grevillea/
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea_%27Moonlight%27

By Dan Clarke