Grevillea petrophiloides

Pink Pokers

Family: Proteaceae

An erect and very open shrub, to 3 metres tall and spreading potentially to 3 metres wide.

It grows naturally in the south-west of Western Australia, from south-south-east of Perth (Hyden area) to around Kalbarri (north of Geraldton). It is found on sandplains and gravels in dry sclerophyll woodland and shrubland.

Leaves are green to green-blue, to about 7 cm long and divided into very fine narrow segments (forked), resulting in the ends of leaves being about 3 cm wide.

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 has cylindrical inflorescences, to about 8 cm long to 4 cm wide. They are held on elongated stems, well above the foliage, with some inflorescences produced within the foliage. The flowering stems can weep or arch over.

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 20 mm long, bright pink to cream with grey-purple tips.

The perianths are also bright pink.

In the garden

A grevillea that is well-worth growing for its flowers and architectural form.

It can be temperamental on the east coast but can be successfully grown.

A sandy soil and fast drainage are highly recommended. Low humidity and good air flow are also needed.

Full sun to part shade. It is excellent for attracting bees and other insects. Will tolerate light frost.

Some forms are now sold as grafted plants so check with your nursery. It is worth a try for the bright pink inflorescences on elevated stems.

Useful in large open beds, along driveways and rocky gardens.

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. Grafted forms are the best for east coast gardens.

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”.

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.

petrophiloides – Latin for resembling the genus Petrophile referring to the resemblance of the foliage.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/13416
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
http://anpsa.org.au/g-pet.html

By Dan Clarke