Grevillea venusta

Byfield Spider-flower

Family: Proteaceae

A large erect to spreading shrub to 5 metres high by 2 metres wide.

It occurs in Queensland, mainly in the Byfield area (north of Rockhampton) and spreading southwards to Gympie.

Leaves are alternate along the stems, to 20 cm long, sometimes intact but often with three or more deep lobes (forked), often with 5 segments all up resulting in a leaf to 10 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 short cylindrical racemes (which sometimes verge on spider-type), to about 9 cm long by 8 cm wide and the colour combination is quite amazing: green, orange-yellow and deep purple (indigo) / almost black, with a coating of white hairs in places.

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 to 40 mm long, dark-purple / indigo (almost black) with white hairs. The perianths are a mixture of green and yellow and yellow-orange with darker red markings.

Follicles are to 20 mm long.

In the garden

A very popular grevillea, at least in times past. It is well suited to tropical gardens and high humidity. Not overly frost tolerant.

Can be easily grown on the coast in NSW. Give a part sun position and some room to spread out. It can be shaped into a rounded dense shrub, about 3 x 3 metres, with strategic pruning. It is not the most heavily-flowering grevillea but still an attractive shrub for contrast and the colour of the flowers.

Will respond better with supplementary watering. Great for open beds, shrubberies and a feature plant.


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 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.

venusta – Latin – venustus meaning “charming” or “attractive”.

This specie is listed under both Queensland and Commonwealth legislation as threatened with the category of Vulnerable.

Wikipedia – Grevillea venusta profile page                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grevillea_venusta

Booyong Conservation Retreat – Grevillea venusta profile page

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 Dan Clarke