Grevillea parviflora

Small-flowered Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub usually to 1 metre high or less (possibly 1.5 m), or almost prostrate. It can spread from rhizomes.

It is generally confined to the Greater Sydney Basin in NSW (in recent times, more occurrences have been recorded); found naturally from Prospect to Camden and the Avon and Cordeaux Dam area on clay soils, and from Arcadia to Maroota on sandy soils.  It can also be found in the Lake Macquarie area, stretching to the Newcastle area.

The species is currently listed as threatened under both State and Commonwealth legislation (see notes below).

It grows in heath or shrubby woodland as well as intact dry sclerophyll woodland and forest.

Leaves are alternate along the stems, linear, to 6 cm long and about 0.3 cm wide, held erect, upper surface smooth to dotted.

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 white to cream inflorescences, appearing predominantly from July to December. Each cluster is erect and composed of 6 to 12 individual flowers.

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 are up to 7 mm long; with the style curved, usually hooked 2 mm from the tip, mostly hairless and white to creamor pink in colour with darker tips. Perianths are white to cream to pink, with rusty brown hairs, about 5 mm long.

The fruit is a follicle, hairless, up to 1 cm long. Follicles are not often produced.

In the garden

This is a listed threatened species and so cultivation details are scant.

It is found, sometimes in large numbers in bushland, on a range of soils types, so it may be able to be grown quite well if plants were available. It may be short-lived and may be difficult to establish for a long period. Plants usually emerge en masse after a disturbance event such as fire or land clearing.

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

There are two subspecies currently recognised in NSW:

  • subsp. parviflora: Grows in open forest, shrubby and swampy woodland, heath, and disturbed sites. Sydney area south west to Bargo and Fitzroy Falls, and south to Nowra, and also north to Cessnock, Cooranbong and Newcastle.  A spreading to erect shrub that suckers from the roots. Branchlets tend to grow on one side of the branches (a condition known as secund).
    Leaves to about 4 cm long and less than 2 mm wide.
    The whole flower, both tube and protruding style, is white, aging to pinkish-red, with rusty-brown hairs on the outside of the flower. Flowers occurring April to May and July to December.
    Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
    Commonwealth status: Vulnerable
  • subsp. supplicans: Grows in forest margins, heathy woodland, and disturbed sites, in exposed shallow soil situations; restricted to the Sydney area within 15 km of the southern edge of Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River.
    It is a semi-prostrate shrub in exposed, shallow-soil situations with an ability to sucker from rhizomes. Major branches more or less spreading with branchlets usually growing on one side of the branches (secund).
    Leaves are to 6 cm long and to 0.3 cm wide.
    Flowers usually white, sometimes purple to pink. Flowers occur August to November.        Conservation status in NSW: Endangered                                                                    Commonwealth status: Not listed

At the time of writing, it is considered by botanists that there are more subspecies in this parviflora group. Further research continues.

Plants usually emerge en masse after a fire. This is likely from rhizomes but may also be from the seed bank.

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 flowers were a traditional favourite among Aborigines 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”

In the past, the name Grevillea parviflora was used for plants in Victoria which are now currently referred to the species G. alpivaga, G. gariwerdensis, G. micrantha, G. neurophylla or G. patulifolia.

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.

parviflora – Latin – parvus meaning “small” – referring to the comparitively small flowers of the species.

(subsp. supplicans) – Latin meaning “supplicating” – possibly referring to the nature in which the leaves are held sky-wards from the branches.

This species is currently listed as threatened with extinction in the wild, with the category of Vulnerable at both the State and Commonwealth levels.

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage – Threatened Species Profiles – Grevillea parviflora subsp. parviflora and subsp. supplicans profile pages

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


By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.