(Callistemon, pronounced /ˌkælɨˈstiːmən/) is a genus of 34
species of shrubs in the family Myrtaceae. The majority of
Callistemon species are endemic to Australia; four species are also
found in New Caledonia. They are commonly referred to as
bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers
resembling a traditional bottle brush. They are found in the more
temperate regions of Australia, mostly along the east coast and
south-west, and typically favour moist conditions so when planted
in gardens thrive on regular watering. However, at least some of
the species are drought-resistant.
Callistemons can be propagated either by cuttings (some species more easily than others), or from
the rounded seeds. Flowering is normally in spring and early summer (October-December), but
conditions may cause flowering at other times of the year. The obvious parts of the flower masses
are stamens, with the pollen at the tip of the filament; the petals are inconspicuous (see picture).
Flower heads vary in colour with species; most are red, but some are yellow, green, orange or
white. Each flower head produces a profusion of triple-celled seed capsules around a stem (see
picture) which remain on the plant with the seeds enclosed until stimulated to open when the plant
dies or fire causes the release of the seeds. (A few species release the seeds annually.)
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They are relatively slow growing though in time the larger
species can grow up to 15 metres. Some are ground-hugging,
and grow to only 0.5 metre. The leaves are linear to
lanceolate and are not shed in the winter. The spiked ends
can cause skin scratches when brushed past.