Isopogon formosus

Rose Cone-flower

Family: Proteaceae

Isopogon formosus is a small, erect or spreading shrub that may reach a height of 1.5 metres and is known as the Rose Cone-flower.

It is an endemic species to the south-west of Western Australia, growing from very close to the coast in the very south-west regions, from south of Bunbury, eastwards with some disjunction to the Rocky Gully-Denmark area, then further east to Hopetoun and then with another disjunction to the Esperance area, as far east as Cape Arid National Park.

It grows on sandy soils laterite and granite in mallee-shrublands and heathlands.

Isopogon spp. have leaves appearing simple, or heavily dissected into segments (appearing compound), arranged alternately. In this species, the young growth is silky and sometimes reddishh with adult leaves to 50 mm long by about 30 mm wide, with an undivided stalk (petiole) and then with the upper part heavily dissected/divided into narriw linear segments; each segment terminating into a sharp point.

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 heads are around 60 mm in diameter, conspicuously displayed on the ends of the branches and subtended by small simple or divided leaves. 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. The inflorescences can be produced in large-number, giving a nice display in late winter to summer. In this species, the individual flowers are about 30 mm long and are purple to pink-purple. The styles turn to deeper orange during flowering.

The woody fruiting “cone” is rounded, oval and hairy, to about 2 cm across. Nuts are 2 to 3 mm long and hairy.

In the garden

This is a very beautiful shrub but is not all that reliable when grown in the eastern states.

For best results, it needs to be grown in a mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and wet winters. It does not tolerate humidity well and may suffer in wet summers.

If a really well-drained spot can be used in full sun with good air flow, then it might work in some areas. This species is grown successfully by some members of APS Sutherland.

It is a very attractive plant if you can get it to grow.


Propagate from seed and cuttings.

We have had excellent success with cutting propagation.

Other information

The species was first introduced into England 1805 and is grown in California.

This species likely regenerates from seed after 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.

formosus – Latin meaning “finely-formed”, “handsome” or “beautiful”.

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

Western Australian Herbarium. Florabase: The Western Australian Flora – Isopogon formosus profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/2230

Australian Native Plants Society Australia (ANPSA) – Isopogon formosus profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/isopogon-formosus

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 Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke