Micromyrtus ciliata

Fringed Heath-myrtle

Family: Myrtaceae

A low spreading shrub with long arched and tapered branches, growing to about 1 metre tall by 1.5 metres wide.

Micromyrtus ciliata is common in the Sydney basin, growing northwards to Newcastle-area and then moving inland into the northern tablelands where it grows to north of Glen Innes. It grows on the north, central and south-western slopes, as far west as around Hillston and north-of. It is then found somewhat disjunctly around Mildura. It is also found through the southern tablelands and south coast areas of NSW. It grows commonly through Victoria and is numerous in the western parts, extending west to the Adelaide-area.

It grows in a variety of habitats from sandy coastal heaths to dry sclerophyll heathland and woodland on rocky slopes. It is usually found where there is some additional moisture.

Micromyrtus spp. trend to have small, simple and opposite leaves, often decussate (where the projection of each pair of leaves is at a 90-degree turn to the last and next pair); less than 1 cm long and very narrow. Micromyrtus ciliata has very small leaves, 2 to 4 mm long and up to 1 mm wide, aromatic, and mid to dark green.

Micromytus spp. have very small flowers – cup shaped and rotate, with 5 to 6 petals and with very small sepals. They are usually produced solitary or in 3-flowered clusters, in leaf axils. Yet, the number of flowers is very large. In this species, flowers are small, to about 8 mm across, white (sometimes pinkish) and maturing to deep pink of red; persisting for many weeks. The flowers are massed along the branches to give an outstanding display from late winter to summer.

The fruit is a nut, usually as small as the flowers, and one is produced per flower.

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated. Check with local native nurseries and online for availability. It grows well on shallow sandy soil with good drainage but may also tolerate a heavier soil. Very useful in rockeries and beside any water feature where soil may be damp.

It benefits from additional watering in the first few years, so that a healthy vigorous plant can be established. It is very useful for suppressing weeds underneath.

Author’s notes:

I planted my first plants many years ago in my garden in the northern Sydney suburb of Westleigh and they are still growing and flowering well. They have a graceful appearance and once established they only need water in very dry times. I give them a good prune during flowering for cut flowers which stops them getting as wide as they might. But they soon regrow.

They can create a nice display when plants become mature, resembling a great native version of something like the exotic Diosma.


Micromyrtus ciliata propagates easily from cuttings and flowers while quite small.

Other information

This species likely regenerates from seed after fire but may reshoot from basal parts or from suckering, especially if plant are mature.

Micromyrtus is a genus of about 22 species, endemic to Australia, occurring in the mainland states only except for  Northern Territory. The genus contains some listed threatened species. Seven species occur in NSW.

Micromyrtus – From Greek micros (μῑκρός) meaning ‘small’ and the genus Myrtus, generally referring to the small growth habit and perhaps the foliage of most species.

ciliata From Latin cilium, meaning ‘eyelash’, referring to the stiff hairs, that can be seen with a handlens, on the leaf edges of this species.

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

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

Australian National Herbarium – Micromyrtus ciliata profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp1/micromyrtus-ciliata.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.