General Description:

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.

There is some confusion regarding the name of these plants. The Western Australian herbarium lists both taxa as subspecies of Chamelaucium floriferum. However, the Australian Plant Census (which ANPSA accepts as the authority on plant names) has not yet taken up that nomenclature and does not regard C. floriferum as valid. This situation seems likely to change in the future.

The current situation appears to be:

  • Chamelaucium sp. Walpole = C. floriferum subsp. floriferum (aka ‘Walpole Wax’)
  • Chamelaucium sp. Nornalup = C. floriferum subsp. diffusum

These plants are usually small to medium shrubs, typically 1.5 – 3 metres high with linear, narrow leaves up to 40 mm long and highly aromatic when crushed. The small, pink/white flowers occur profusely in late winter and spring. They are circular in shape and about 10 mm in diameter.

Although native to a dry summer climate, C. sp. Walpole has been in cultivation for many years as ‘Walpole Wax’ and has been grown successfully in more humid, temperate and sub-tropical areas. However, it cannot be said to be easy to maintain for long periods in those areas and is undoubtedly more adaptable to areas of dry summers. The plant requires a very well drained position, preferably in sandy soil in sun or semi shade. Once established, plants will tolerate periods of extended dryness. If needed, the plants respond well to pruning back by about one third annually.

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.


Plant profile image

Chamelaucium sp. Walpole
Photo: Brian Walters

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