Kunzea parvifolia

Violet Kunzea

Family: Myrtaceae

A wiry shrub to a height of 1.5 metres, with a spread to 1 metre with its young branches covered with soft hairs. 

It has a large geographic range in NSW, growing from the coastal inland to the edge of the western slopes, as far south as the Victorian border on the tablelands and western slopes and as far north as the Queensland border north of Tenterfield. There are records just into Queensland, north-west of Stanthorpe. It grows commonly in Victoria, in the general north-eastern and south-eastern quarters, and then disjunctly in the central west.

It is found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest. It has a habit of forming extensive copses in regenerating areas on paddocks and edges of woodland and native grasslands. Often found in slightly wetter areas in the landscape.

Kunzea spp. have simple and alternate or opposite to clustered leaves, often aromatic. In this species, the leaves are alternate and spiral around the stem, linear to narrow lanceolate and more or less pressed against the stem, to 4 mm long and about 1 mm wide, with a prominent midvein. 

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, the flowers are arranged in head-like clusters of mostly three to eight on the ends of the branches, pink to mauve, rarely white, about 8 mm in diameter if stamens are measured. Occurring mostly in October and November.

The fruit of Kunzea is a capsule. In this species, it is about 3 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, which will release many small seeds (up to 50).

In the garden

This species has been in cultivation for many years and is generally a reliable plant for temperate climates and in all but waterlogged soils. Has profuse bright pink-mauve, nectar rich flowers in spring to summer. Grows best in full sun with well drained moist soil.

After flowering, give the plant a light prune to maintain a nice shape and heavier flowering. 

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

This was a popular plant in the 1980s and the author and many others grew this plant for it attractive flowers. It has fallen out of favour a little in recent times. It is reported to be very hardy and grows commonly in dry and frost-prone areas. 


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.

Seed is available commercially.

Other information

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. The genus is diverse and is still undergoing taxonomic study due to hybrids and many subspecies. 

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.  

parvifoliaLatin, parvus meaning ‘small’ and folia – ‘leaves’, referring to the very small leaves of the species.

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

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

Gardening with Angus – Kunzea parvifolia profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/kunzea-parvifolia-violet-kunzea/

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Kunzea parvifolia profile page https://anpsa.org.au/plant_profiles/kunzea-parvifolia/ 

Australian Native Plants Society Australia – Kunzea genus article (October 2004) http://anpsa.org.au/APOL2006/aug06-s3.html

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.