Kunzea aristulata

Family: Myrtaceae

An erect shrub to 2 metres tall with a 1-metre spread, with young stems hairy.

It has a small geographic distribution in NSW, only found in one general location west of Lake Burragorang (west of Sydney) and south of Katoomba, in Blue Mountains National Park / Yerranderie State Conservation Area – near Yerranderie.

It is found in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forest, often on sandstone cliffs.

Kunzea spp. have simple and alternate or opposite to clustered leaves, often aromatic. In this species, they are alternate although crowded, elliptic to broad-ellitpic, to 6 mm long and to 2.5 mm wide, with acute-awned apices and with short petioles. Overall, the foliage strongly resembles an epacrid.

Kunzea spp. have conspicuously staminate flowers, like many of their myrtle-relatives, with 5 sepals and petals, in a range of colours, white, red, purple, pink or yellow (depending on species). Each flower has numerous stamens surrounding one carpel. Flowers are usually produced in high numbers in terminal or sub-terminal clusters or heads; rarely as solitary flowers or in clusters of 2s or 3s. In this species, In this species, the flowers are cream in colour, with petals only 1 mm long, about 5 mm in diameter overall, and grouped in head-like clusters at the ends of branches, occurring between September and November.

The fruit of Kunzea is a capsule. In this species, it is about 5 mm long and 3.5 mm wide, which will release many small seeds (up to 50).

In the garden

Not a lot of information can be found regarding the propagation and cultivation of this species. It is not listed as threatened but is very rare in the wild. It is a species that has only been formally recognised relatively recently.

It would be a very different Kunzea to grow with its small epacrid-looking leaves.

It likely needs a well-drained soil to thrive, and a sunny position.

Kunzeas are trouble free and are a most desirable genus of attractive plants to grow in any garden. The floral beauty of infinite variation attracts beneficial insects and nectar loving birds

Slow release native plant fertiliser can be advantageous to growth and health of plants.


Kunzea spp. can generally be propagated by seed or cuttings.

If grown from seed, flowering may take 6 years. However, cuttings taken from semi-hardwood tip cuttings, taken in late spring through to early autumn could produce flowers in one year or two at the latest.

Better still, grafting onto a suitable rootstock such as Kunzea ambigua can produce flowers within a very short period of time. Grafting creates strong long-lived plants.

Other information

This species was known as Kunzea sp. ‘Mt Cookem’ initially.

Kunzea is a genus of about 60 species, found in Australia and New Zealand. Australia has about 50 species – all endemic. Some species are used for essential oil. The genus is diverse and is still undergoing taxonomic study due to hybrids and many subspecies. NSW currently has 15 species.

Kunzea spp. will generally profusely sucker from root zones after fire, as well as regenerate from seed.

Kunzea – named after Gustav Kunze (1793-1851) – a German professor of zoology and an entomologist and botanist. Kunze was eventual Director of the Botanic Gardens of Leipzig. The genus was named after him by botanist Ludwig Reichenbach.

aristulata – Latin – diminutive or aristata meaning ‘aristate’ – where a structure has a tapering and hair-like apex. In this case, the name refers to the leaves which are shortly but not prominently awned at the apices.

This species not currently listed as threatened with extinction but is very rare in the wild. However, it is well-protected in national park estate and in a remote area.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Kunzea aristulata profile page

Atlas of Living Australia – Kunzea aristulata

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Kunzea genus article (October 2004)

By Dan Clarke