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Monday, February 24, 2014

Callistemon viminalis - Weeping Bottlebrush

This species was one of the first trees I learned in class. I was blown away by the flowers, like nothing I had ever seen, wow, so long ago. The weeping bottlebrush is a smallish evergreen tree with a dense weeping habit (usually but look at the one at the Mission). The tree tends to be multi-stemmed and branches low resulting in some training required if you want to walk under. This one is located at UCSC arboretum and has been pruned to be able to walk under the branches. Generally needs some irrigation to grow well. Native to Australia. (The other common bottlebrush C. citrinus is a shrub.)

The medium dark green evergreen leaves are narrowly lanceolate to linear, 3-4" long and pretty stout. Tend to be restricted to the ends of the branches. New foliage is a pink color like many trees in the genus melaleuca for which is was once included.

Stems are thin, light brown and have hairs. Notice the red base of the petiole. Lateral buds are tiny.

Its all about the flowers. Blooming heavily in the spring and lightly throughout the rest of the year. When these trees are in bloom they are magnificent. Individual flowers are small and all stamens, but they occur in a long pendulous spike about 5" long. The common name comes from the inflorescence looking like a bottlebrush (Did I really have to say that?)

The small capsules follow the flowers. They are about a 1/4" and in large clusters. Persistent on the stems for years.

This one again, in bloom. Every time I go to the arboretum I seek out this tree.

Misidentification: If you are looking at a piece of stem without flowers you might be hard pressed to identify it as the leaves look like so many others, like C. citrinus or even a Melaleuca. Cant say this works all the time but I look at the base of the petiole for the red color.

Santa Cruz
312 Poplar (Morrissey West) is huge, very beautiful, one of the best

UCSC arboretum has several great specimens. 
You can see the one at the Mission as well, it's been pruned to a single stem but still weeps.

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