Isopogon anethifolius

Narrow-leaved Drumsticks

Family: Proteaceae

An erect shrub to 3 metres tall by 2 metres wide, with reddish stems and a lignotuber.

It grows along the east coast of New South Wales, mainly confined to the central and south coast divisions, extending just into the central and southern tablelands, from Braidwood and east of here in the south, north to about Olinda in Wollemi National Park.

It grows in sandy and sandstone heath, shrubland 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 150 mm long by about 40 mm wide, with the lower half, linear and tubular (terete) and then the upper half split into several tubular-linear segments (long-forking pattern) with pointed tips but not overly prickly.

The inflorescences of Isopogon are typically globe-shaped (globose) terminal heads. In this species, they consist 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 with flowering heads surrounded by the erect foliage. 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 20 mm long on average.

The fruiting body is a spherical (barrel-shaped) woody cluster (“cone”), to 25 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 cultivated and is best grown in a well-draining sandy soil and not in full hot sun but in dappled shade with some sunny periods. It responds well to a low-phosphorus fertiliser in Spring and additional watering when it is young. It is an excellent cut-flower.

Can be pruned by lightly removing tips of shoots but is largely unnecessary.

Grow in an open garden where it can be observed and give it some room to spread out.


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

Unlike I. anemonifolius, there are no cultivars known for this species.

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.

anethifolius – Latin – derived from a genus Anethum (Dill) and -folium, the latter meaning “leaf”, highlighting the resemblance of its leaves to those of Dill, the herb.

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

Australian National Herbarium – Isopogon anethifolius profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp8/iso-anet.html

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

Wikipedia – Isopogon anethifolius profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isopogon_anethifolius

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 Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke