Myrtaceae (Myrtle family) Callistemon

Callistemon brachyandrus prickly bottlebrush

Southeast Australia
Callistemon brachyandrus flowers fade, Stanford Avenue. Sairus Patel, 17 Jul 2022
Callistemon brachyandrus fruit, Stanford Avenue. Sairus Patel, 7 Jun 2022

A prickly bottlebrush with 1-inch needle leaves and flower clusters 1 inch in diameter and length around 2½ inches appeared on Serra Street around 1960 just outside the nursery (now occupied by the Recycling Center). As G. W. Leibnitz said about an anonymous item by Isaac Newton, “By its paw shall you know the lion,” so the paw print of Dirk Schroder (former Stanford arborist) is evident. A descendant from seed grew on the west side of the Stanford Avenue greenbelt about 40 yards northeast of the intersection of the Stanford and Santa Fe Avenues bike paths. It lasted for decades, but was cut down to a stump in 2023; we shall see if it resprouts.

Because of its prickly leaves, it is inadvisable to brush against this small tree. The attractive brushes are gold tipped, each ¼-inch scarlet stamen displaying its own golden anther. The closed seed capsules remain queued on the branches, so that their age can be counted in years. At any time, however, abundant seed can be collected by putting a branchlet into a paper bag for a week.

Callistemon brachyandrus. John Rawlings, ca 2005

· Callistemon and Melaleuca: Key to Species

Illustrations: branchlet 20 Jun 2005, Stanford Greenbelt.

Name derivation: Callistemon – Greek kalli, beautiful, and stemon, a stamen, in reference to the characteristic long, showy stamens; brachyandrus – short anthers.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Edits; noted sole specimen was cut down (May 2023, SP).