Callistemon is a member of the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family. It was first described as a genus in 1814. Callistemon species have commonly been referred to as bottlebrushes because of their cylindrical, brush like flowers resembling a traditional bottle brush.
The botanical name Callistemon is derived from the Greek words kallos, meaning beauty, and stemon, meaning stamen, describing the coloured stamens, the showy part of the flowers.
The entire genus is endemic to Australia and is widely cultivated in many other places. They are long lived and require minimal maintenance. Some species are even drought-resistant. They are widely used in ornamental landscaping.
In Australia, flowering is normally in spring and early summer (October–December), but conditions may cause flowering at other times of the year. The flowers attract native birds, especially honey eaters. The obvious parts of the flower masses are stamens, with the anther at the tip of the filament. The corolla is inconspicuous and green in colour. The calyx is even more minute.
Each flower head produces a profusion of 3-chambered seed capsules around a stem. They remain on the plant with the seeds enclosed until stimulated to open when the plant dies or fire causes the release of the seeds. A few species release the seeds annually.
Botanical Drawings :
Cronin, Leonard (1987) Key Guide to Australian Wildflowers A Reed Book (ISBN 0 7301 0191 6)
Fisher, Celia (2013) The Golden Age of Flowers The British Library (ISBN 978 07123 5895 8)
Wrigley, John W and Murray Fagg (1993) Bottlebrushes, Paperbarks & Tea Trees and all other plants in the Leptospermum alliance, Angus & Robertson (ISBN 0-207-16867-9)