|Melaleuca paludicola in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.|
Callistemon paludosus F.Muell.
Callistemon sieberi DC.
Melaleuca paludicola, commonly known as river bottlebrush, is a plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae and is endemic to eastern Australia. (Some Australian state herbaria continue to use the names Callistemon sieberi or Callistemon paludosus.) It is a shrub or small tree with flexible, often drooping branches, pinkish new growth and spikes of cream, pale yellow, or sometimes pink flowers in summer.
Melaleuca paludicola is a shrub or tree growing to 8 metres (30 ft) tall, with fibrous bark, or hard, fissured bark on older plants. Its leaves are arranged alternately and are 20–68 millimetres (0.8–3 in) long, 1.3–8 millimetres (0.05–0.3 in) wide, flat, linear to narrow lance-shaped and have a small point at the end. There is a distinct mid-vein and 11-18 indistinct side veins.
The flowers are a shade of cream to yellow, occasionally pink and are arranged in spikes on the ends of branches which continue to grow after flowering and also on the sides of the branches. The spikes are 20–30 millimetres (0.8–1 in) in diameter with 10 to 40 individual flowers. The petals are 2.6–4.2 millimetres (0.1–0.2 in) long and fall off as the flower ages and there are 48-67 stamens in each flower. Flowering occurs mainly from October to January and is followed by fruits which are woody, cup-shaped capsules, 3–4.3 millimetres (0.1–0.2 in) long.
Taxonomy and naming
Melaleuca paludicola was first formally described in 2006 by Lyndley Craven in Novon. The specific epithet (paludicola) is from the Latin word palus meaning “swamp” and the suffix -cola meaning “inhabitant”. An earlier name for the species was Callistemon paludosus and the present name was chosen to link with the earlier one. The name Melaleuca sieberi refers to a species found in coastal Queensland.
Distribution and habitat
Melaleuca paludicola occurs from Warwick in the far south east of Queensland, through New South Wales as far inland as the eastern part of the North West Plains to the eastern half of Victoria. There is a disjunct population in the Mount Lofty Ranges and Adelaide districts of South Australia. It grows in near rivers, in dry, rocky riverbeds and in flood channels subject to periodic inundation.
Use in horticulture
Melaleuca paludicola is sometimes cultivated as Callistemon sieberi. An alpine form is smaller, denser, rounded shrub suitable as a more formal plant.
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