Grevillea oldei

Family: Proteaceae

Grevillea oldei is a generally small-ish open shrub with arching branches and may reach a height of 1 metre by 1 metre wide (possibly a little taller).

It occurs naturally in a small region on the central coast of NSW, between Woy Woy and Mangrove Mountain with most records in the Gosford to Somersby-area. In parts of Strickland State Forest, it is the dominant understorey shrub.

It can be found growing in dry sclerophyll forest and woodlands, as well as shrublands.

The leaves are narrowly ovate to almost triangular with a sharp point, to about 35 mm long by 6 mm wide, with a sharp point (mucro) and with the undersides hairy, mid-green in colour.

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 produce the inflorescences mostly at the terminals, beyond the foliage, which differs to the closely related Hakea.

This species is a spider-flower, with pendulous spider-clusters produced at the terminals, about 20 x 30 mm in size, bright red in colour. The blooms are rich in nectar and attract honeyeaters.

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, flowers are to 15 mm long, generally red to deep pink-red.

The follicles are hairless, to about 1 cm long.

In the garden

This species can be cultivated. The species was growing at Melbourne Botanic Gardens in 1909 and has been successfully grown in Sydney. Not a lot of cultivation information is available online. Check with local native nurseries for availability. Note: this plant has been previoulsy sold as G. trinervis and G. sp. aff. capitellata.

Grevillea oldei prefers well-drained situations in full sun or partial shade. Prune lightly after flowering. It is suited to rockeries and sloping gardens.


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

Most grevilleas regenerate from seed after fire. Some can reshoot from buried rhizomes.

Grevillea flowers were a traditional favourite among First Nations Peoples of Australia 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.

oldei – named after Peter Olde OAM – a self-trained botanist who has become one of Australia’s foremost experts on the Grevillea genus; publishing many new species and author of The Grevillea Book – a 3-volume set. Peter is a member of Australian Plants Society NSW and leader of the ANPSA Grevillea study group.

This species is rare in its distribution but not currently considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

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

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 Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.