Kunzea bracteolata

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub growing to about 1.5 m tall by 2 to 3 m wide.

In NSW, it is confined to the northern tablelands. The Northern Tablelands of New South Wales is a home to a world class collection of national parks. They in turn protect a range of interesting and often rare native plants. Gibraltar Range National Park (GRNP), east of Glen Innes, has its fair share of rare plants. Kunzea bracteolata is one of these rare species that GRNP protects. Although classified as rare this species has a range exceeding 100 kilometres. It is found as far south as between Dorrigo and Guyra, extending northwards through the tablelands into Queensland, to the north-east and north-west of Stanthorpe.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll forest on granite substrates.

Kunzea spp. have simple and alternate or opposite to clustered leaves, often aromatic. In this species, they are unevenly alternate, to 9 mm long by 2.5 mm wide, narrow-elliptic in shape with an acute point; hairy when young and losing hairs as they age. They are aromatic and mid to dark green.

Kunzea spp. have conspicuously staminate flowers, like many of their myrtle-relatives, with 5 sepals 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, flowers are produced in head-like clusters at the end of the branches; white in colour, which each flower about 10 mm across if the spreading stamens are included. The stamens of each flower meld into each other, and a lot of heads can be produced in a tight space, creating a mass flowering effect, produced mainly in mid to late spring and smelling strongly of honey. The flowers attract a wide range of native insects including bees, beetles and wasps.

The fruit of Kunzea is a capsule. In this species, it is about 4 mm long and 4 mm wide, which will release many small seeds.

In the garden


Not a great deal of information is available regarding the propagation of this species but it is known to be cultivated. Check with nurseries and online for availability. It is reported to be a hardy plant and useful as a low screen.


Prune lightly after flowering to stop plants becoming straggly. A site in full sun is appreciated with good drainage.

We find that Kunzea bracteolata frost tolerant and once established has low water requirements.

A great plant for attracting insects to the garden.

Kunzeas are generally 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 progated 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.

Other information

The type specimen was collected by J. L. Boorman near Wallangarra, on the NSW/Queensland border, in November 1904.

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. 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.

bracteolata – Latin – named for the conspicuous bracts that surround the hypanthium (base-receptacle) of the flowers.

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

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

Wikipedia – Kunzea bracteolata profile page                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunzea_bracteolata

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.