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No. 230: Callistemon salignus


A White Bottle Brush.

(Family MYRTACEÆ.)

Botanical description.

— Genus, Callistemon. (See Part LXI, p. 15).

Botanical description.

— Species, salignus DC. Prodr. iii, 223 (1828).

The history of the species is as follows:—

Smith in Trans. Linn. Soc. iii, 272 (1797) first described this species under the name of Metrosideros saligna, as "follis alternis lanceolatis utrinque attenuatis mucronatis, floribus lateralibus confertis sessilibus glabris," and compares it with M. lanceolata (Callistemon lanceolatus). He remarked "that he had a suspicion that this might be the Metrosideros viminalis of Gaertner, but the original specimens of that species are very different, having linear- lanceolate leaves, not tapering at the ends, and downy flowers." The M. viminalis mentioned above has been mixed up in herbaria with C. lanceolatus, and Mr. Cheel has described it as a new species; see Part lxi, p. 15.

It is figured as Metrosideros saligna, "Willow-leaved Metrosideros," in Bot. Mag. t. 1821 (1816), and the additional references, Willd. Sp. Pl. ii, p. 956, and Hort. Kew ed. alt. iii, p. 185, and Persoon, Syn. ii, p. 26, are given. The statement is made that it was introduced into England by Sir Joseph Banks about the year 1788.

Then we have —

C. Salignum. Foliis lanceolatis utrinque acuminatis mucronatis adultis glabris, nervo medio pennivenoso, nervalis lateralibus margini approximatis, calycibus glabris. " Metrosideros saligna Smith (as quoted); Sims' Bot. Mag. t. 1821; Vent. Hort. Cels. t. 70; Bonpl. Nav. t. 4. Also " Flores pallide flavescentes. Stamina petalis sub-rotundis vix triplo longiora. (DC. Prod. iii, 223 [ 1828 ], which is the date of the inscription of the species as Callistemon. Sieber's specimen No. 320, Pls. Exs. is the type. This description is translated into English in Gen. Hist. Dichlamydeous Plants (Don) ii, 822 (1832) in the following words:—

Leaves lanceolate, acuminated at both ends, mucronate, glabrous in the adult state, with the middle nerve feather-veined, and the lateral nervules approximating the margins; calyces glabrous. Native of New Holland. Metrosideros saligna Smith, in Lin. trans. 3, p. 272; Vent. Hort. Cels. t. 70; Bonpl. Nav., t. 4; Sieb. Pl. Exsic. No. 320. Flowers pale yellow. Stamens hardly 3 — times the length of the petals which are roundish.

Willowy Callistemon. Fl., May, July. Ct. 1788. Shrub 4 to 6 feet.

Mueller, in Fragm. iv, 54 (1864), described it in Latin and gives a copious synonymy, enumerating as forms, typica, C. paludosus, O. viridiflorus, C. Sieberi.

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Bentham then described it in 1866:—

A tall shrub or small tree attaining sometimes 30 to 40 feet, and often undistinguighable in foliage however, usually more acute, more distinctly penniand inflorescence from C. lanceolatus; the leaves are, however veined, and the nerve-like margins often more prominent; in some forms, however, the venation is, on the contrary, more obscure.

Spikes in the common form glabrous, more rarely the rhachis and calyces pubescent or villous.

Flowers generally rather smaller than in C. lanceolatus, the calyx-lobes more ovate.

Stamens pale yellow or rarely light pink, usually rather under 1/2 in. long.

Fruiting-calyx and capsule as in C. lanceolatus. (B. Fl. iii, l20).

Mr. E. Cheel has re-described it from Port Jackson specimens as follows:—

A small tree with papery bark and flexile branches, with a more or less drooping habit.

Leaves lanceolate, much narrowed towards the base, two to three inches long, and a quarter or rarely exceeding half an inch broad, pubescent when young, which is of a rufous colour, but quite glabrous when mature. Venation rather prominent at all stages, but more so in dried specimens, the lateral veins running somewhat obliquely to the marginal nerves.

Oil glands somewhat obscure on the upper and lower surface of the leaves, but if held up to the light are seen to be very numerous.

Flower-spike usually about one to two inches long, mostly glabrous.

Bracts ovate-lanceolate, glabrous, from 2 1/2–5 1/2 lines long and 1/2–1 1/2 lines broad, pale-green at first but with age becoming brownish in colour, especially at the tips, faintly striated, deciduous.

Calyx-tube semi-ovate to sub-cylindrical, glabrous, or nearly so, lobes very deciduous.

Petals semi-ovate, rarely exceeding 3/4 — 1 line in length, and of a pale-greenish or pallid colour.

Stamens pale or creamy-yellow colour, slightly over half an inch long. Anthers slightly darker in colour than the filaments.

Fruits nearly globular in general outline with a slightly contracted orifice, about 2–2 1/2 lines in diameter.

Botanical Name.

— Callistemon, already explained (see Part LXI, p. 17); salignus, Latin, of or belonging to the Willow, hence Willow-like, which refers to the shape and droop of the leaves.

Vernacular Name.

— It is one of the "Paper-barks" or "Paper-bark Teatrees," because of the papery or lamellar bark. Woolls (Flora of Australia, p. 91) calls it "Broad- leaved Tea-tree," but there are Melaleucas to whom this name is more fitly applied.

Aboriginal Name.

— "Bood-joong" of the aborigines of the counties of Cumberland and Camden, New South Wales (Macarthur), "Unoyie" of those of the Clarence and Richmond (C. Moore).


— Metrosideros saligna, Sm. in Trans. Linn. Soc. iii, 272; Vent. Jard. Cels. t. 70; Bonpl. Pl. Malm. t. 4; Bot. Mag. t. 1821; Metrosideros pallida, Bonpl. Pl. Malm. 101, t. 41; Callistemon pallidus DC. Prod. iii,. 223; C. lophanthus, Lodd. Bot. Cab. t. 1302 (B. Fl. iii, 121).

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— Wood very hard and close-grained; it has the reputation of being very durable underground like that of most Tea-trees. Thus it is used for posts, for corduroy-roads, and for standing in water and in damp places generally. It has been used for engraving, but with no marked success. An engraving in which this wood is used will be found at page 50, vol. v, of the Proc. Philosoph. Inst. of Victoria for 1859. It is a "wood-cut designed by Dr. Ludwig Becker, and engraved by Mr. Grosse, which proves to be fully equal to European boxwood for the purpose of wood engraving."

The wood varies in colour from a uniform drab to dark red, and some specimens have a very pretty grain, which looks well under polish. It is fairly easy to work, and dresses admirably. It resembles that of the better-known Turpentine (Syncarpia) somewhat. Two slabs of this wood in the Technological Museum, which had been seasoned over twenty-five years (having been exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862), had weights which correspond to 56 lb., 13 oz. and 60 lb. 12 oz. per cubic foot respectively. Specific gravity .983 (61 1/3 lb. per cubic foot). (Report Victorian Exhibition, 1861.)


— While often seen as a large shrub, it may attain the dignity of a medium-sized tree, especially as one goes north.


— The normal form, as figured, appears to be confined to New South Wales and Queensland. In New South Wales it is found in the greater part of the eastern portion. where, with most Tea-trees, it frequents moist places. We require more information as to southern localities, and we do not know haw far north it occurs in Queensland. The Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian localities given in the Flora Australiensis are not those of the normal form.

NEW SOUTH WALES. — The following are specimens represented in the National Herbarium, Sydney.

Southern Localities. — Box Point. Wingello to Kangaroo River (banks) (J.H.M.); Badgery's Crossing, Shoalhaven River (W. Forsyth and A. A. Hamilton); Nowra (A. A. Hamilton); Mt. Kembla (A. G. Hamilton); Menangle (E. Harper); Cobbitty Bridge, near Camden, of fair size (J.H.M.). Both these localities are Nepean River.

Western Localities. — " Tall plants of 10 — 12 feet, much branched, with several stems, pendulous and willow-like in habit. Growing near the running water in which the lower branches dip." Bent's Basin, Nepean River (E. Cheel and J. L. Boorman); Nepean, near Penrith (A. A. Hamilton).

Grose River and banks of Nepean River near confluence with the Grose. Robert Brown collected here about May, 1803, and January, 1805. (R. H. Cambage and J.H.M.).

Bull Ridge, near Windsor (H. J. Leroy). "An interesting form, with wore prominent oil glands and woolly fruits." (E. Cheel.)

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Sydney District. — Port Jackson (Robert Brown, 1802 — 5); Peakhurst (E. Cheel); near Penshurst Railway Station (E. Cheel); Belmore (R. T. Baker).

Northern Districts. — A large tree, 2 feet in diameter, near Gosford (A. Murphy). 10– 12 feet. The only specimen on a dry hillside. Gosford (A. A. Hamilton).

Wyong (A. A. Hamilton); Yarramalong, Wyong (W. A. W. de Beuzeville); entrance to Tuggerah Lakes (A. A. Hamilton); Awaba (J. L. Boorman); Cooranbong (Forest Ranger John Martin); Lake Macquarie (D. W. Shiress).

Flowers with white filaments. West Maitland (Miss A. Brewster). Cessnock (E. Southwell).

Dungog (W. F. Blakely); 10 inches in diameter and 30 feet high. Booral (Augustus Rudder); Crawford River, Bulladelah (E. Cheel); Bulladelah (J. L. Boorman).

Murrumbo, 50 miles north of Rylstone, near the Goulburn River (R. T. Baker). Near Warrah (Jesse Gregson).

The usual paper bark. Gloucester (W. Heron); Mograni Mt., near Gloucester (J.H.M.); "Occasional slender shrubs or small trees." Taree (E. H. F. Swain).

Mt. Seaview. See "Notes of a Trip to Mount Seaview, Upper Hastings River," Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W xxiii, 20 (1898), and " Mount Seaview and the Way Thither, " Agric. Gaz. N.S.W., June, 1898.

Common all over the brackish soil of the district. Flowering from 2 feet up to 20 feet. Coff's Harbour (J. L. Boorman).

Woodford Island, Clarence River (E. J. Hadley).

"Grows on high ground. Height about 25 feet. Diameter 8 inches. Evenly distributed throughout this district. Fairly plentiful." Casino (W. F. Pope).

Flowers remarkably distant in the spike. Tree attaining a height of 20 feet. This tree grows about the edge of the scrub. Acacia Creek. Macpherson Range (Forest Guard W. Dunn, No. 126).

QUEENSLAND. — Gympie (L. Hirst).


Bentham (B. Fl. iii, 121) recognises four varieties of C. salignus, as follows:—

1. var. australis.

2. var. hebestachyus.

3. var. angustifolia.

4. var. viridiflora.

1. var. australis. Leaves usually smaller (1 to 2 inch), calyx and rhachis glabrous. Melaleuca paludosa Schlecht., Linnæa xx, 653, not of R. Br.; C. paludosus, F. Muell. Fragm. i, 14. To this belong the majority of the Victorian, Tasmanian, and South Australian specimens. (B. Fl. iii, 121).

Mueller (Fragm. iv, 55) says this form extends to New England.

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This is figured as C. paludosus F.v.M., and a full account given in my "Illustrations of New South Wales Plants," Part iii, Plate 24. It extends from South Australia and Victoria, over the greater part of New South Wales, at least as far north as the Clarence.

2. var. hebestachyus. Leaves rather small. Calyx and rhachis pubescent or villous. C. lophanthus Sweet Fl. Austral. t. 29, but not the syn. of Ventenat quoted. Victoria and Tasmania.

C. leptostachyus Sweet Fl. Austral., under n. 29, is probably a weak form of the same variety. (B. Fl. iii, 121).

Then we have —

Melaleuca pityoides F. Muell. Herb., from Buffalo Range, enumerated doubtfully under Callistemon by Miq. in Ned. Kruidk. Arch. iv, 112, must remain uncertain until the flowers are known. F. Mueller, Fragm. iv, 54, refers it to C. saligna, but the leaves are semi-terete and pungent as in Melaleuca nodosa and M. pungens; the fruits, which may be those of Melaleuca or of a Callistemon, form 4 dense cylindrical spike of about 1 inch. (loc., cit.)

This is at least in part identical with C. Sieberi DC. (C. salignus DC.) var. Sieberi F.v.M. in Fragm. iv, 54), which is figured in my Ill. N.S.W. Plants, ill, Plate 25.

Mr. E. Cheel constitutes it a variety of C. Sieberi DC, thus C. Sieberi DC, var. pityoides Cheel (=C. pityoides F.v.M. in Melbourne Chem. & Drugg. 1883, p. 3), which description is here reproduced.

Leaves short, thinly cylindrical, somewhat awl-shaped, slightly compressed or sometimes semicylindrical, soon glabrous; bracts lanceolate-linear or narrow, or somewhat ovate-lanceolar; rhachis and often also the calyces short downy; lobes of the calyx semi-ovate-roundish or some almost semi-orbicular, membranaceous, about half as long as the tube, considerably shorter than the petals, finally deciduous; stamens comparatively short; filaments pale yellowish, glabrous, about twice as long as the petals, or some three times as long; anthers yellow; style glabrous; fruits truncate-ovate, rarely depressed-globular, more or less contracted at the summit; valves silky at the surface.

Mueller goes on to say that "In its external aspect this plant resembles more the larger forms of Melaleuca ericifolia than even the smaller of Callistemon salignus, to which he was at first inclined to refer it as a form."

Bentham (B. Fl. iii, 121, 123) somewhat demurred at its being classed as a form of C. salignus, pointing to Melaleuca nodosa and M. pungens as very similar in foliage, and places it as a variety of C. brachyandrus.

I have examined Mueller's type specimens, and can scarcely separate it from some of the forms of C. Sieberi DC.

At first sight it appears to be a yellow-flowering form of C. brachyandrus, to which, as stated above, Bentham referred it, but although the leaves very closely resemble that species, it will be easily recognised through the absence of the narrow channel, characteristic of C. brachyandrus. The only character which induces me to keep this as a separate variety of C. Sieberi is the cylindrical or semi-cylindrical leaves. All the other characters are similar to those of C. Sieberi. (Cheel).

Other references are Scortechini, Proc. Linn. Soc., N.S.W., viii, 170 (1883); Cambage, op. cit., xxix, 692 (1904).

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DISTRIBUTION — Victoria. — Buffalo Range (F.v.Mueller); Ovens River (C. Falck); Bright District (J. H. Maiden).

New South Wales. — Cathcart, near Bombala (J. H. Maiden); Wallangarra Swamps (E. Betche).

Queensland. — Dumaresq River (Rev. B. Scortechini); Stanthorpe, F. M. Bailey, who also suggests that it might be placed as a variety of C. brachyandrus.

It will thus be seen that all our recorded localities are from high elevations near the Victoria — New South Wales border, and in similar situations near the New South Wales - Queensland border.

3. var. angustifolia. — Leaves lineaar-lanceolate, very rigid, almost pungent, 1 to 2 in. long. Flowers glabrous. N.W. interior of N.S.W. (A. Cunningham); New England (C. Stuart) (B. Fl. iii, 121).

Prof. Ewart informs me that there is no form under that name in the Melbourne Herbarium. I have a note that it forms much of the bank-side vegetation near the Bridge over the creek at Wollomombi (Wollomombi Creek). Straggling high shrubs 10 to 15 feet high.

Mr. Cheel thinks that "It is probably a form, if not identical with C. paludosus."

4. var. viridiflora. This is a synonym of C. viridiflorus DC., and seems a good species. It appears to be confined to Tasmania, in spite of the Gippsland reference in B. Fl. iii., 121.
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