September 16, 2010

A Lovable Non-Native

Bottlebrush (Callistemon) falls into that ever-growing category of "Plants-I-Did-Not-Appreciate-Before-Leaving-California-But-Now-Find-Completely-Enchanting." It's not a native, which is probably why my mother does not like it and explains why I previously didn't either. (I tend to internalize many of Mom's tastes, which I usually consider a good thing; she's got a good eye).
But anyways, after several years away I've gained a new appreciation for these showy beauties. The hummingbird's eye view, approaching the "brush" head-on, is especially cool. It almost looks like a airplane propeller (below). What do you think?


  1. The hummingbird's view is beautiful! I grew up with these trees in Miami and never noticed the leaves at the top-- perhaps there is a different variety in S. FL. Will check when I next visit my parents. I also gree up with powder puff bushes-- not sure this is the right variety, but this is what they looked like:

  2. Yes, I'd never really noticed the leaves either, but it very well could be another variety you grew up with. There are so many!! In trying to find the exact name for mine (no luck) I came across the story of a man who keeps one in Ohio. He treats it to a happy lamp in his basement through the winter and in rerun it blooms for him. Intrigue?

    Your powder puff plant looks awesome. Very Dr. Seuss- esque, like the lorax trees.

  3. Hi! I have a renewed appreciation of bottlebrush too. Here in Australia they are considered common and boring to many. There is no doubt through when you look closely they are stunning just like your photos show. This one is from the eastern states of Australia- maybe Callistemon citrinus 'Endevour'? Beautiful!

  4. Hi Sepal and Twig, thank you for the ID! From the google image search results, I'd say that definitely looks like the guy. Do the "citrinus" varieties smell like citrus??

    Many people here in California think of the bottlebrush as common, too- it's used a lot in landscaping applications (oleander suffers the same fate). But I think it would look great in a kind of eclectic English style garden, kind of a la Cristopher Lloyd's Great Dixter.