Plant of the Month July 2016

Callistemon a genus of shrubs in the family Myrtaceae is endemic to Australia but widely cultivated.

They are commonly called bottlebrushes on account of their cylindrical brush like flowers.They were first described by Robert Brown in 1814. Although it seems they are related or identical to Melaleuca, most commercial nurseries use the name Callistemon.

The bottlebrush appearance is formed by the mass of long coloured filaments with the anther containing the pollen at the tip. The petals are inconspicuous but the bright filaments vary in colour. Most commonly they are red, but may be orange, yellow, white or even green. Each flower head produces a long row of seed capsules. The enclosed seed is usually released when the plant dies or fire causes the release. Presumably more likely in its native Australia.

The bright yellow flowered shrub at Reveley grows at the top of the vegetable garden, near the entrance to the ‘secret garden’ where the bee hives stand. It is aptly labelled ‘Honey Maker’ and bees are frequently seen feeding on the flowers. However, this cultivar name is not listed in the current Plant Finder. It may in fact be Callistemon pallidus but ‘Honey Maker’ would be a more attractive name for a potential sale!

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