Isopogon anemonifolius

Broad-leaved drumsticks

Family: Proteaceae

A shrub to 2 metres tall by up to 2 metres wide.

It grows along the east coast of New South Wales (just extending into the tablelands regions) from near the Victorian border almost to (and possibly reaching) Queensland. It is most common between Smoky Cape and Ulladulla in NSW, growing on low-nutrient sandstone soils in heathland and dry sclerophyll woodland and forest.

Isopogon spp. have leaves appearing simple, or heavily dissected into segments (appearing compound), arranged alternately. In this species, leaves are up to 100 mm long, alternating up the stem; the bottom half of the leaves are linear, and the top half spreads out and is divided into many linear segments (creating a forked appearance; may also be referred to as pinnatisect).

The inflorescences of Isopogon are typically globe-shaped (globular) terminal heads, consisting of many bright yellow flowers occur in late spring and early summer. The flower clusters are around 35 mm in diameter, conspicuously displayed on the ends of the branches. Being a Proteaceae genus, the flowers are similar to that of other genera with flowers having 4 tepals, 4 stamens and 1 carpel. Each head might have 50 – 100 flowers, occurring from spring to summer. In this species, most flowers parts are bright yellow with styles turning a darker shade of yellow-orange, with flowers about 25 mm long on average.

The fruiting body is a spherical (barrel-shaped) woody cluster (“cone”), 10 to 16 mm in diameter which consists of individual nuts. The nuts are covered in white hairs and are about 2 to 3 mm long. They can remain on the plant for an indefinite period.

In the garden

This species has a history of being one of a group of native plants that beginners in native plant growing (including this author) started growing in years past.

It is commonly grown by APS members.

It will grow readily in the garden if located in a sunny or part-shaded spot with sandy soil and good drainage with some moisture. While a long-lived plant, this author has lost a few plants due to poor drainage in heavy soil.

The stems and flowers are long-lasting if put in water making good cut flowers.

It can be pruned heavily once established. But give a light prune for the first few seasons, after flowering.

Plant in an open position, in open beds or rockeries for best results.


By seed or cuttings of hardened growth less than a year old.

The seed can be collected from the cones and stored; they are best sown in spring or autumn.

Other information

First collected by the Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander at Botany Bay in 1770 on the first voyage of Captain James Cook. The species has had many name changes before arriving at its current name.

It was first cultivated in the United Kingdom in 1791.

Cultivars that are commercially available are (amongst others):
Isopogon ‘Woorikee 2000’, ‘Little Drumsticks’ and ‘Sunshine’ with are all dwarf forms.

Following bushfires, this plant resprouts from its woody base, known as a lignotuber. Seedlings appear in the year following a fire.

Isopogon is a genus of about 35 species, all endemic to Australia, occurring in all states and territories, except the Northern Territory. NSW currently has 7 species.

Isopogon – from the Greek words Isos (ίσος) meaning ‘equal’ and –pogon (πώγων) meaning ‘beard’, referring to the equal-length hairs on the fruits (nuts) of some species.

anemonifolius – Latin – derived from a genus of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) Anemone and –folium, the latter meaning “leaf”, highlighting the resemblance of its leaves to those of Anemones (windflowers).

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

Australian National Herbarium – Isopogon anemonifolius profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp1/isopogon-anemonifolius.html

Plants of South Eastern New South Wales – Lucid Online Plant App – Isopogon anemonifolius profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/isopogon_anemonifolius.htm

Gardening with Angus – Isopogon anemonifolius profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/isopogon-anemonifolius-sunshine-drumsticks/

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

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke