Calytrix consists of about 75 species, all endemic to Australia with the greatest concentration being in the south-west corner. Most are small to medium shrubs with star-like flowers ranging in colour from white through, yellow, pink and purple to red.
Calytrix leschenaultii is one of the most widespread of the western species and is a shrub to around 1 metre having deep mauve to purple flowers (about 10mm diameter) with a white or yellow centre. This species includes plants formerly known as C.brachyphylla. In common with most Calytrix species, a feature of the flowers is the “awns” or fine hairs which extend from the calyx lobes beyond the petals. Flowering occurs in spring.
The leaves are small (about 2mm long) a feature shared but most other members of the genus.
Apart from C.tetragona (fringe myrtle), Calytrix has not received widespread cultivation. C.leschenaultii should be reliable in well drained positions in temperate climates which have a fairly dry summer, preferably in a semi shaded position. Cultivation in more humid climates may be possible but plants will probably not be reliable in those areas.
Propagation of C.leschenaultii is best from cuttings as seed can be difficult to germinate. Experimentation into the use of grafting has been carried out with Calytrix species using the closely related genus Darwinia as root stock. Some success has been reported but it is not known whether grafting of C.leschenaultii has been attempted.
For further information on cultivation and propagation of Calytrix, see the article on growing Calytrix on the Geraldton Wax and Relatives page.
Photo: Brian Walters