WHAT IS A BOTTLEBRUSH?

  1. A type of brush intended for cleaning bottles
  1. Callistemon, a genus of shrubs and trees from Australia known as bottlebrushes

Common name: Bottlebrush. The name derives from the plant’s flowers, which look like brushes for cleaning bottles.

Bottlebrushes are members of the genus Callistemon and belong to the family Myrtaceae. They are closely related to paperbark melaleucas, which also have ‘bottlebrush’ shaped flower spikes. It is difficult to tell to which genus some species belong. Botanists are currently closely studying these plants to determine how they are best classified. There are 40 species currently called Callistemon. Bottlebrushes make excellent garden plants. They are woody shrubs which range from 0.5 m to 4 m tall. They grow in all but the driest areas of Australia.  Plants grown in full sun produce the best flowers.

The flower spikes of bottlebrushes form in spring and summer and are made up of a number of individual flowers. The pollen of the flower forms on the tip of a long coloured stalk called a filament. It is these filaments which give the flower spike its colour and distinctive ‘bottlebrush’ shape.  The flowers can be spectacular and are irresistible to insects and nectar-feeding native birds, especially the honey eaters. Gardeners are rewarded with an extraordinary depth of colour as they flower prolifically. They are long-lived and require minimal maintenance. The original bottlebrushes available to gardeners were all bold red but now there is a range of colour from red to pink, mauve, yellow, cream and green.

When walking in my local area during this past week I was very aware of the masses of flowers on the red bottlebrushes and very excited to come across both a pink one and a cream one. Hence the following photographs have been taken on my iPhone.

Crimson Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus ) was introduced to Britain by Joseph Banks in 1789.

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