Melaleuca linearis, commonly known as narrow-leaved bottlebrush, is a plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae and is endemic to New South Wales and Queensland in Australia. (Some Australian state herbaria continue to use the names Callistemon linearis, Callistemon pinifolius and Callistemon rigidus.) It is a medium-sized shrub with narrow leaves which have a rigid point, and red flower spikes in late spring or early summer.
Melaleuca linearis is a shrub growing to 3 metres (10 ft) tall with grey, hard, fibrous bark. Its leaves are arranged alternately and are 35–115 millimetres (1–5 in) long, 0.7–2.7 millimetres (0.03–0.1 in) wide, narrow linear in shape and flat to channelled or semi-circular in cross section. There is a mid-vein but the lateral veins are inconspicuous.
The flowers are a shade of red, rarely green and 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 40–65 millimetres (2–3 in) in diameter and 5–10 centimetres (2.0–3.9 in) long with 20 to 90 individual flowers. The petals are 3.2–7 millimetres (0.1–0.3 in) long and fall off as the flower ages and there are 23-73 stamens in each flower. Flowering occurs from late spring to early summer and is followed by fruits which are woody capsules, 3.8–8.2 millimetres (0.1–0.3 in) long.
Distribution and habitat
Melaleuca linearis occurs in and between the south-east corner of Queensland, Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales and inland as far as Gilgandra. It grows in damp situations in a range of vegetation associations.
Use in horticulture
Melaleuca linearis has long been in cultivation (as Callistemon linearis, C. pinifolius and C. rigidus). Although not common in gardens, it is a hardy plant, thriving in most soils but preferring full sun. It is more resistant to pests such as sawfly than other melaleucas.