Grevillea phylicoides

Grey Spider Flower

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub to 2 metres high.

It is found naturally in the Central and South Coast subdivisions of NSW, from Wisemans Ferry and Colo Wilderness to Burragorang and Wentworth Falls. It grows in dry sclerophyll woodland or heath, usually in skeletal soil; on sandstone.

The branchlets are hairy.

Leaves are alternate along the stems, mostly to 2.5 cm long and to 0.4 cm wide, margins entire and curved down; upper leaf surface granular, lower surface hairy.

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 spider-flower with white/grey to pink inflorescences appearing predominantly from July to March in clusters.

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 hairy outside, inner surface more or less white woolly. The carpels are to 13 mm long. The style is white or pink to red, hairy.
Flowers occur in July to March in clusters.

The fruit is a follicle, with hairs, about 1 cm long.

In the garden

This species is not readily known in cultivation, mainly due to the fact that so many other grevillea species and cultivars are grown. However, it is very similar to Grevillea buxifolia subsp. buxifolia and was previously a subspecies of this species. Subspecies buxifolia is grown by some members and  does well in a sunny spot on a free draining soil (Note that this plant also goes by the name “Grey Spider Flower” as do others in this group).

If plants can be sourced, it would likely grow really well and could be pruned into a bun shape which would promote flowering.

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

Synonyms: This species is also known as Grevillea scabrifolia and Grevillea buxifolia subsp. phylicoides

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”.

Most Grevillea species will regenerate from seed after fire but can 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.

phylicoides – reflects its similarity to the genus Phylica – a mostly South African genus in the Rhamnaceae, with terminal inflorescences.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Grevillea phylicoides profile page

Plants of South Eastern NSW – Grevillea phylicoides profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/grevillea_phylicoides.htm

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke