Callistemon pinifolius (syn. Melaleuca linearis)

Distribution Map
Family: Myrtaceae
Distribution: Forests and woodlands in central New South Wales, usually in damp places
Common Name: Pine-leaved Bottlebrush
Derivation of Name: Callistemon...from Greek kalos; beautiful and stemon; stamens
pinifolius...a reference to the similarity of the foliage to the genus Pinus
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

There is ongoing controversy about whether Melaleuca or Callistemon should be used for the bottlebrush species - see box below). Some herbaria have now adopted the name Melaleuca linearis to include this species as well as Callistemon linearis and Callistemon rigidus, however, this reclassification has not been adopted in the Australian Plant Census (which is accepted by ANPSA as the authority on Australian Plant nomenclature).

Callistemon pinifolius
The common green-flowered form of Callistemon pinifolius

Callistemon pinifolius
An unusual orange/red form of Callistemon pinifolius
Photos: Brian Walters

Callistemon pinifolius is usually an an easily identified species because of its very narrow leaves, which are quite distinctive in comparison to the broader foliage of most other members of the genus.

This species is a small to medium shrub rarely exceeding 1.5 metres in height. The brushes are usually green in colour but red flowered forms are sometimes seen in the wild and may appear in cultivation as chance seedlings. C.pinifolius has some similarity with C.linearis (which has red flowers and slightly wider leaves) and sometimes occurs in the same locations as that species.

C.pinifolius is reasonably common in cultivation and seems more resistant to attacks by sawfly larvae than the broader leafed species. The plant responds to annual fertilising after flowering and may be pruned severely if necessary. Many callistemons can tolerate less than perfect drainage but usually perform best in gardens with reasonable drainage and regular availability of water.

Propagation is easy from both seed and cuttings.

Callistemon or Melaleuca?
A paper by Lyn Craven of the Australian National Herbarium (Novon 16 468-475; December 2006 "New Combinations in Melaleuca for Australian Species of Callistemon (Myrtaceae)") argues that the differences between the genera Callistemon and Melaleuca are insufficient to warrant them being retained separately and that they should be combined. As Melaleuca has precedence, adoption of Craven's work would transfer all species of Callistemon into Melaleuca. Some state herbaria have adopted this change but, at this stage, the re-classification has not been taken up in the Australian Plant Census, which ANPSA recognises as the authority on plant nomenclature. For this reason we have retained Callistemon as a separate genus but the corresponding names under Melaleuca will also be mentioned where appropriate.

Craven's re-classification has been adopted in a recent (2013) publication "Melaleucas: their botany, essential oils and uses" by Joseph J. Brophy, Lyndley A. Craven and John C. Doran.

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