Melaleuca diosmifolia

Family: Myrtaceae

Melaleuca diosmifolia is a dense shrub reaching a height of 3 metres by up to 2 metres wide.

It has a generally small natural distribution on the south coast of Western Australia, from about 20 km west of Albany, east to Bald Island (less than 100 km away); with some disjunct records to the north in Stirling Range National Park.

It has become naturalised in Victoria.

It is found in coastal heathland and shrubland, on sandy soils and granite outcrops.

Melaleuca spp. can present with simple and alternate or opposite leaves. In this species, leaves are spirally arranged and densely crowded, imbricate (overlapping), elliptic in shape and without petioles, to about 13 mm long and 5 mm wide. Juvenile leaves are light green while adult leaves become darker.

In Melaleuca species, flowers are usually arranged in spikes or heads. Within the head or spike, the flowers are often in groups of two or three, Flowers have five sepals (sometimes fused into a ring of tissue) and five petals which are typically small and do not persist on the flower for long.
Like many other Myrtaceae genera, the flowers are conspicuously staminate with each flower having many stamens surrounding one carpel. The stamens are typically fused into five separate bundles (staminal claws) which each bundle sitting opposite a petal (a generally useful identifying feature for the genus to distinguish it from Callistemon). Melaleuca flowers do not have pedicels (sessile).

In this species, up to 30 staminate flowers are arranged in cylindrical, bottlebrush-like spikes, which are an unusual lime-green colour, up to 50 mm long and 40 mm wide, occurring in spring and early summer; each flower is about 9 mm wide.

The fruit is a capsule. In this species, they are up to 10 mm in diameter.

In the garden

A popular shrub due to its unusual green flowers – produced in spikes. It also has well-ordered foliage which is also an attraction.

Growth habit, foliage and flowers are attractive features. Tip pruning will improve foliage density. This in turn will provide safe nesting sites for small native birds.

Melaleuca diosmifolia could be cultivated in hedges and screens.

It does not tolerate heavy frost and is best-planted in a well-drained sandy soil; may tolerate heavier soils.

It can naturalise in coastal areas where it does not belong, so consider this when planting and monitor for any “fence-jumping”.


Propagate from seed and cuttings.

Other information

This species easily regenerates after fire, producing coppicing basal and branch shoots. It will also regenerate by seed.

Note: There is an eastern species called M. diosmatifolia (which was previously M. erubescens – and also profiled on this database) – which is a completely different species with purple flowers.

The genus Melaleuca has been subject to recent taxonomic revision with early and recent botanists including Ferdinand von Mueller and Lyndley Craven (deceased in 2014) proposing to expand the genus to include all Callistemon spp. and others.

Craven et al. (2014) published new species combinations which included the renaming of all Callistemon species to Melaleuca, based on evolutionary relationships and DNA evidence and other features.

Currently, the NSW Herbarium advises that the Callistemon genus can still be used.

Melaleuca is a genus of about 220 species, occurring mostly in Australia, but also Malesia and New Guinea. Australia has about 215 species with 210 reported endemic, occurring in all states. NSW currently has 30 species.

Melaleuca – is derived from the Ancient Greek mélas (μέλας) meaning “dark” or “black” and leukós (λευκός) meaning “white”, apparently because one of the first specimens described had fire-blackened white bark.

diosmifolia – Latin – with foliage like the genus Diosma – a genus of South African plants in the Rutaceae family.

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

Western Australian Herbarium (1998–). Florabase – The Western Australian Flora:                      Melaleuca diosmifolia profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5905

Gardening with Angus – Melaleuca diosmifolia profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/melaleuca-diosmifolia-green-honey-myrtle/

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