Chamelaucium is a genus of about 30 species all occurring only in south western Australia. They are generally small to medium shrubs with narrow leaves and ‘tea-tree’ like flowers.
Chamelaucium ciliatum is usually a small, erect or spreading shrub to about 1 metre high. It has linear, narrow leaves up to 40 mm long and highly aromatic when crushed. The small, white or pink flowers occur in spring and summer and age to a deeper pink colour. They are circular in shape and about 15 mm in diameter.
Although native to a dry summer climate, Stirling wax has been cultivated successfully in more humid, temperate and sub-tropical areas but cannot be said to be easy to maintain for long periods in those areas. The species is undoubtedly more adaptable to areas of dry summers. It requires a very well drained position, preferably in sandy soil in sun or semi shade. Once established, plants will tolerate periods of extended dryness.
Propagation from seed is difficult but cuttings of firm, current seasons growth usually strike readily. Some experiments have been carried out into grafting Chamelaucium species onto Kunzea flavescens, Kunzea ambigua and Leptospermum petersoni. This work shows promise.
Photo: Brian Walters