The best known Callistemon in our part of the world is the very common small tree, the “weeping bottlebrush”, Callistemon viminalis, with its bright red flowers.
We have another local Callistemon, little known, and unnamed.
I photographed this specimen in a garden near Felton, where it was humming with life. At least six kinds of insect were feeding on the nectar in the flowers, three of them large and beautiful butterflies.
The seed from which this one was grown came from a small population of the plants, spread along just a few miles of Emu Creek, between Cambooya and Felton. In most of the creek, including near the Emu Creek State School the callistemons are the more usual C. viminalis with its familiar red flowers.
(This “Emu Creek” is not to be confused with the many others of the same name, in our country where this large bird was once common, including the other “Emu Creek” in our district, north of Crows Nest.)
As you can see, the flowers vary in colour, opening salmon pink, and fading to cream. The effect of mixed colours on the bush is very pretty.
Young plants have the bushy habit shown above, both in the wild and in gardens. Older plants develop into substantial small trees.
I photographed these last weekend, from the bridge over Emu Creek, on the Cambooya-Felton Road.
They do look a bit flood-bothered, don’t they?
Another view of the largest tree, taken from another angle, gives a better idea of its size - and of the size of the flood which burst the banks of the creek and spread over the surrounding plain.
Like C. viminalis, these would be a good choice to plant in areas where flooding may sweep away less sturdy vegetation. They hold on tightly to the soil with their flood- and drought-adapted roots, and survive inundation.
As you see, they thrive on the heavy black soil.
Other small populations of what may be the same species occur in various places, mostly on tributaries of the Condamine River. It grows at Chinchilla, and has officially been given the interim name of Callistemon sp. (Chinchilla D.M.Gordon 401). It has also been called sp. ‘Surat’ and sp. ‘Koreelah Creek’.
It also grows (assuming these plants are indeed all the same species) on Oakey Creek in the Brookvale area. The late Lance Cockburn, of Brookvale Park Botanic Garden fame, sold them as Callistemon 'Weir River'. (Weir River is out near Moonie.)
This should be a special plant for those of us who live on the Darling Downs, and value our very own natives.
I look forward to seeing it become easier to buy!