Callistemon pachyphyllus (syn. Melaleuca pachyphylla)

Distribution Map
Family: Myrtaceae
Distribution: Sandy heath of coastal New South Wales and southern Queensland.
Common Name: Wallum Bottlebrush
Derivation of Name: Callistemon...from Greek kalos; beautiful and stemon; stamens
pachyphyllus...from Greek pachys; thick and phyllum; a leaf
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 pachyphylla 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 pachyphyllus
Callistemon pachyphyllus
Photo: Brian Walters

Callistemon pachyphyllus is a small to medium sized shrub, usually reaching around 1 metre in height. It's common name comes from the sandy, coastal heath habitat which is known as "Wallum".

Although not widely cultivated, Callistemon pachyphyllus is a hardy plant under a wide range of garden conditions. The "bottlebrush" flower spikes appear in late spring and are usually red in colour. The green flowered form is the variety viridis which is found throughout the range of the 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. The green form could be expected to come true from seed.

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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