Grevillea ‘Scarlet Sprite’

(cultivar)

Family: Proteaceae

A small shrub that grows to 1 metre tall x 1 metre wide. It is a form of Grevillea rosmarinifolia.

It has mid green narrow and stiff-prickly linear leaves, to about 3 cm long by only 0.1 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 cultivar is a form of one of the spider-flowers, with inflorescences to about 3 cm long and wide. They are scarlet-red / pink-red and can be produced profusely, over most of the year.

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 30 mm long, pink-red with yellow-green tips.

In the garden

This is a popular cultivar due to its hardiness and profuse flowering over most of the year. It is very drought and frost tolerant and will grow in many areas of Australia, on a variety of soils. It is reportedly fast growing and can be pruned lightly into a dense shape which will promote flowering.

It can cope without supplementary watering, although plants will flower much more heavily if watered. It can flower very heavily, creating a spectacular show (albeit on a small shrub), and is great for attracting birds.

Plant at the front edges of gardens for best effect.

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”.

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.

Scarlet Sprite’ – named for the scarlet-coloured inflorescences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea
https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/grevillea-rosmarinifolia-scarlet-sprite-grevillea/
https://www.australianplants.com/plants.aspx?id=1262

By Dan Clarke