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Plantidote of the Day 2013-01-10 Updated!

twig's picture


Calothamnus quadrifidus

Common net bush, one-sided bottlebrush

UPDATE: Thanks to reader LD, we now what this tree is, and there are links in the comments to more information! Thank you, LD!!!

I'm not sure what this is, but if it's as gray where you are as it is here, maybe just seeing some blue sky will be helpful. It sort of resembles a bottlebrush tree, but I have one of those and this is a bit different. Maybe a subspecies? Anyway, if anyone recognizes the flowers or leaves, let me know in a comment and we'll put together a longer piece. (Click on the image to enlarge it for better detail.)


Readers, please send twig ( images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chantrelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

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insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

That sure is a curious plant. Has needles like a fir with new tips in orange red. It has red "flowers" at the ends of long white stems. Very curious indeed. I know where I will be for the next hour...
Looking at images on Google to see if I can solve this delicious mystery.
Thanks for the challenge!
My first thought was an Australian family of plants called Grevillea. There are dozens in the family and they have needled leaves and that red/orange color is very common in Grevillea.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Very funny that you mention that, because before posting this mystery plant I was considering a Grevillea. It was bright pinky red, though. This one certainly does look Australian. Or like something from Madagascar -- very exotic. If we get desperate, I'll go back to the botanical garden and search for a name plate. I'm pretty sure there wasn't one, but sometimes they get a bit lost in the ground cover.

jerztomato's picture
Submitted by jerztomato on

At first glance, I thought you were pulling a fast one on us. I thought it looked like a fir with some sort of disease. No doubt it's some zone 10 plant

LD's picture
Submitted by LD on

I know you can google it, but here's Botanica's '97 writeup:

Calothamnus sp. - Net Bush, One-Sided Bottlebrush, in the Myrtaceae Family

Some 40 species of evergreen shrubs make up this genus, which is endemic to Western Australia. They have narrow, almost needle-like, deep green leaves, 1-3 inch long. In flower they somewhat resemble bottlebrushes (Callistemon,) except that the clusters of stamen filaments that make up each flower are fused for much of their length into a flat or concave portion, and flowers tend to be all on one side of the stem, usually the lower side, and open on older wood below the leafy branch tips. Most species of Calothamnus have red flowers that open in late winter and spring.

Cultivation: Plant in light, well-drained soil in full-sun and protect from frost when young. All species tolerate poor soil and quite dry conditions. Although some may become rather woody, avoid pruning too heavily as the old wood is often reluctant to reshoot. They are propagated from seed or small, semi-ripe cuttings.

List of species: 1-Calothamnus quadrifidus (or C. villosus) - Common (Silky) Net Bush, Zone 8-11 (10-20F min,) and 2-Calothamnus rupestris - Cliff Net Bush, Zone 9-11 (20-30F min.)

I planted a 15Gal 6' C. villosus last summer in a protected southern exposure dry spot in the backyard. It's coming along nicely. New foliage at tip ends are tinged blue-green, and sun back-lighting of this plant is spectacular. The flowers are icing on this metaphorical plant cake. It is somewhat soft, not a fir-like touch at all. Waiting for summer to see it take off into its small tree architecture. I don't have an image of it to upload, but the one above is a good close up. Hope this helps.

Submitted by lambert on

You're going to submit some puzzlers of your own, aren't you? :-)