Calothamnus is a genus of more than 40 species, all of which are found in south Western Australia. It is related to Melaleuca but differs in the arrangement of the anthers on the ends of the stamens. Its closest relatives are other Western Australian genera including Beaufortia, Eremaea and Regelia. All members of the genus have red or reddish flowers; some also have yellow or brown flowers. Most have linear to needle shaped leaves; a few have slightly broader leaves.
C.sanguineus was the first member of the genus to be described – it was published by Jacques Labillardiere in 1806.
Several members of the genus are called “claw-flowers” because of the claw-like shape of the stamen bundles. The name ‘net bush’ is also used for some species because the long stamens on the one-sided flower clusters resemble a net but this name is not officially recognized. C.hirsutus has no official common name so we have dubbed it hairy claw flower.
Calothamnus sanguineus is an erect to open shrub to about 2 metres. It tends to flower over a long period so for many months shows its bright-red claw-like flowers. The flowers have four claws but the bottom two claws are narrow and are held much lower than the upper two. They contain nectar and are attractive to honey-eating birds. The curvature of the flower nicely matches that of the bird’s beak so the pollen is deposited on the birds head. Flowers are followed by large woody seed capsules which retain the seed for many years. It will tolerate extended dry periods once established.
Propagation is easy from seed and presumably from cuttings.
Photo: Jim Barrow