Callistemon salignus (syn. Melaleuca salicina)

Distribution Map
Family: Myrtaceae
Distribution: Forests and woodlands from south-east Queensland to southern New South Wales, usually in damp places. The species has become naturalised in parts of Victoria.
Common Name: Willow Bottlebrush
Derivation of Name: Callistemon...from Greek kalos; beautiful and stemon; stamens
salignus...from Latin salignus, of the willow, referring to supposed similarity of the leaves to the willow, Salix.
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 salicina for this species, 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 salignus

Callistemon salignus - pink
Callistemon salignus
Top: The typical white flowered form. Bottom: A pink-flowered form.

Photos: Michael Wolf (from Wikimedia Commons and reproduced under the GNU Free Documentation License), Brian Walters

Callistemon salignus is usually a small tree to about 7-8 metres high with soft, pendulous foliage and papery bark. A feature of the plant is the pink colour of the new growth. Leaves are elongated elliptical in shape to about 100 mm long by 5-15 mm wide.

The brushes are usually about 50 mm long and cream to white in colour but pink flowered forms are sometimes seen in cultivation. Flowers occur in late spring to mid summer but some flowers may also appear in autumn.

C.salignus is well known as it has been grown in gardens and parks for many years. It is a hardy species which is suited to most soils, even those with less than perfect drainage. It grows best with adequate moisture but will tolerate extended dry periods once established.

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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