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Callistemon citrinus (Curt.) Skeels

Modern name

Callistemon citrinus (Curtis) Skeels


Metrosideros citrina Curt.; C. lanceolatus (Sm.) DC.

A straggly shrub up to 15 ft high in the wild. Leaves 112 to 312 in. long, 18 to 34 in. wide, pointed at the apex; venation prominent. Inflorescence rather open, up to 4 in. long; stamens 34 to 1 in. long, in some shade of red, with darker anthers.

Native of Australia on the coasts of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland; introduced by Sir Joseph Banks in 1788. It has long been grown as a cool greenhouse shrub, but is not suitable for outdoor cultivation except in mild gardens, and even there is best on a wall. The epithet ‘citrinus’ refers to the fragrance of the leaves.

cv. ‘Splendens’. – A fine form with stamens of bright crimson, up to 112 in. long. It was raised at Kew from Australian seed (var. splendens Stapf, in Bot. Mag., t. 9050).

The following species are allied to C. citrinus and somewhat hardier:

C. linearis (Sm.) DC. Metrosideros linearis Sm. – A shrub to 7 ft high young stems silky-hairy when young. Leaves linear, up to 5 in. long, not more than 110 in. wide, channelled on the upper surface. Flower-spikes 3 to 5 in. long; stamens up to 1 in. long, crimson. Native of New South Wales.

C. rigidus R. Br. – A shrub to 8 ft high; young stems slightly hairy when young. Leaves linear to linear-lanceolate, up to 6 in. long and 14 in. wide, sharply pointed, not channelled. Flower-spikes dense, 3 to 4 in. long, stamens dark red, anthers dark brown. New South Wales and Queensland. A fine species, but reports that it is the hardiest of the red-flowered callistemons may perhaps refer to the next species, with which it has been confused in some gardens:

C. subulatus Cheel – A small spreading shrub to about 4 ft high; young wood lustrous rich brown. Leaves glossy green on both sides, awl-shaped, 58 to 112 in. long, 18 to 14 in. wide. Flower-spikes crimson, 2 to 3 in. long, 112 to 2 in. wide. Native of E. Victoria and New South Wales. C. subulatus has proved quite hardy at Wisley against a wall of the Alpine House. See also C. rigidus above.



Other species in the genus