A small tree to 30 ft in the wild, with a papery bark; young stems silky-hairy. Leaves thin but firm in texture, linear to linear-lanceolate, tapered at both ends, 2 to 41⁄2 in. long and up to 1⁄2 in. wide, red when unfolding, later dull green; midrib prominent. Flower-spikes 2 to 3 in. long, with creamy or pale pink stamens (red or white in some cultivated forms).
Native of S.E. Australia, where it is found in coastal areas and swampy places. It is hardy on a wall in all but the coldest gardens, but in this country never makes so tall a plant as it does in the wild.
C. pallidus (Bonpl.) DC. Metrosideros pallida Bonpl. – This species is nearly identical to the preceding and takes its place in Tasmania; it is also found in Victoria. Leaves narrow-elliptic to oblanceolate, 11⁄4 to 21⁄4 in. long, 1⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. wide, covered when young with a dense cobweb of silky hairs and then greyish pink in colour. Flower-spikes cream-coloured, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long.
C. sieberi DC. C. pithyoides Miq. – A shrub to about 15 ft in the wild with dark grey-brown stems. Leaves linear, thick and rigid, densely packed on the shoots, up to 1 in. long and 1⁄10 in. wide. Flower-spikes narrow, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long; stamens pale yellow. A native of the mountains of south-eastern Australia, known as the ‘Alpine Bottlebrush’. It is perhaps the hardiest of the species cultivated in Britain. There is a handsome small specimen outside the Australian House at Kew, of dense habit, with dark, glossy leaves.
C. viridiflorus (Sims) Sweet Metrosideros viridiflora Sims; C. salignus var. viridiflorus (Sims) F. v. Muell. – This species bears a close resemblance to C. sieberi and occupies similar habitats, but is confined to Tasmania. As in that species the small, rigid, sharply pointed leaves are densely set on the shoot, but the flower-spikes are greenish yellow. Bot. Mag., t. 2602.