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Callistemon citrinus - (Curtis.)Skeels.

Crimson Bottlebrush

Author(Curtis.)Skeels. Botanical references11, 154, 200
FamilyMyrtaceae GenusCallistemon
SynonymsCallistemon lanceolatus - (Sm.)DC.
Known HazardsNone known
RangeAustralia - New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria.
HabitatSwamps and along the sides of rocky streams[260].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple icon 2 (1-5) Medicinal Rating 0 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics

icon of man icon of shrub An evergreen Shrub growing to 4.5m by 2.5m at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought.


Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Bog Garden; South Wall By; West Wall By;

Edible Uses

Edible Uses: Tea.

The leaves are a tea substitute and have a delightfully refreshing flavour[144].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

Other Uses

Dye; Wood.

A tan dye is obtained from the flowers, it does not require a mordant, and is green when mordanted[168]. Other members of this genus can also be used[168]. A cinnamon dye is obtained from the leaves[168]. Other members of this genus can also be used[168]. Wood - hard, heavy, tough, close grained, but too small for economic use. Used for tool handles etc[154]. It is also used for fuel[272].

Scented Plants

Leaves: Crushed
The leaves, when pressed, emit a refreshing scent of lemon[260].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in any soil, tolerating both water-logging and drought[260]. Requires a fertile well-drained moisture retentive soil in full sun[200]. Succeeds in a hot position in dry soils. Accepts very wet conditions in Australian gardens[157]. Prefers an acid soil, not doing very well on chalk[182]. This species requires cold greenhouse treatment in most of Britain but it is possibly hardy in the milder areas of the country although even there it is best grown against a wall[1, 11]. Plants are hardy to at least -7c in Australian gardens[157]. Another report says that it tolerates temperatures down to about -10c in Britain[184] and grows well in warm positions in southern gardens. Small-leaves forms of the plant are hardier than the type and can tolerate temperatures down to about -10c[260]. The cultivar 'Splendens' is said to be particularly good in Britain and is possibly more hardy than the type[202]. Plants are very tolerant of pruning, even old plants will regenerate if pruned back hard into the old wood[K]. The species C. linearis, C. rigidus and C. subulatus are all closely allied to this species and are somewhat hardier[11]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. The leaves vary considerably in shape and are lemon scented[182, 184]. The leaves, when pressed, emit a refreshing scent of lemon[245]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].


Seed - surface sow in February in a shaded part of the greenhouse[78]. Cover with paper and stand the pots in a few centimetres of water until germination takes place[200]. Remove from the water tray as soon as the seed germinates. Seedlings are prone to damp off and must be watered with care and kept well ventilated[200]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood,7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Poor results[78].


This cultivar is said to be particularly good in Britain and is possibly more hardy than the type[202]. It can tolerate temperatures down to about -5c[260]. It grows well in desert and coastal areas and can flower all year round[260].



[K] Ken Fern
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1] F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press 1951
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).

[11] Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray 1981
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.

[78] Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co 1948
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.

[144] Cribb. A. B. and J. W. Wild Food in Australia. Fontana 1976 ISBN 0-00-634436-4
A very good pocket guide.

[154] Ewart. A. J. Flora of Victoria. 0
A flora of eastern Australia, it is rather short on information that is useful to the plant project.

[157] Wrigley. J. W. and Fagg. M. Australian Native Plants. Collins. (Australia) 1988 ISBN 0-7322-0021-0
A lovely book, written in order to encourage Australian gardeners to grow their native plants. A little bit of information for the plant project.

[168] Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. 1974 ISBN 0-02-544950-8
A very good and readable book on dyeing.

[182] Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray 1992 ISBN 0-7195-5043-2
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.

[184] Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Shrubs. Pan Books 1989 ISBN 0-330-30258-2
Excellent photographs and a terse description of 1900 species and cultivars.

[200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

[202] Davis. B. Climbers and Wall Shrubs. Viking. 1990 ISBN 0-670-82929-3
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.

[245] Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. 1994 ISBN 0-7090-5440-8
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.

[260] Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Conservatory and Indoor Plants Volumes 1 & 2 Pan Books, London. 1998 ISBN 0-330-37376-5
Excellent photos of over 1,100 species and cultivars with habits and cultivation details plus a few plant uses. Many species are too tender for outdoors in Britain though there are many that can be grown outside.

[272] Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal Timber Press. Oregon. 2002 ISBN 0-88192-527-6
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.



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