General Description: 

There is ongoing controversy about whether Melaleuca or Callistemon should be used for the bottlebrush species – see footnote box. Some herbaria have now adopted the name Melaleuca for these plants, 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 “Old Duninald” was raised by Sid Reynolds at his property “Old Duninald” near Paterson in New South Wales. It arose as a chance seedling and is of uncertain parentage. To date this cultivar has not been widely available. The plant shown was photographed at the Mount Annan Botanic Garden, Campbelltown, New South Wales.

The cultivar appears to be a free flowering plant growing to around 2 metres in height by a similar spread. The typical bottlebrush flowers are an attractive orange-red with yellow tipped stamens. Flowering occurs in late spring to early summer.

C.”Old Duninald” probably produces viable seed. However, because of seedling variation any plants produced from this seed will not be identical to the parent plant and cannot be called “Old Duninald”. Plants produced from cuttings (which should strike readily) will produce genetically identical plants to the parent.

Many Callistemons can tolerate less than perfect drainage but usually perform best in gardens with reasonable drainage and regular availability of water. Callistemons respond to well to annual fertilising after flowering and are not as sensitive as some other Australian plants to phosphorus.

⦿ 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 2013 publication “Melaleucas: their botany, essential oils and uses” by Joseph J. Brophy, Lyndley A. Craven and John C. Doran.


Plant profile image

Callistemon ‘Old Duninald’
Photo: Brian Walters


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