Tuesday, April 27, 2010

South Africa in Berkeley: Natal Bottlebrush in the Botanical Garden

The Natal bottlebrush (Greyia radlkoferi), also named woolly bottlebrush, is a small tree native to South Africa, but found in other countries and on other continents in gardens such as the University of California Botanical Garden. Here, a label underneath the shrub puts it into the Greyiaceae family (wild bottlebrush family). Newer classifications include this family within the Melianthaceae family in the order Geraniales. Greyia radlkoferi has two close relatives: Greyia flanaganii and Greyia sutherlandii, also native to South Africa.

Interestingly, there are other “bottlebrush species,” such as the stiff bottlebrush (Callistemon rigidus) and the weeping bottlebrush tree (Callistemon viminalis), which belong to a different family (Myrtaceae) and different order (Myrtales). Callistemon species are endemic to Australia and New Caledonia.

Most of the Greyia and Callistemon species prefer a temperate climate. There flowers occur in dense clusters with cylindrical shapes that often look like brushes.

[1] Paula de la Cruz, Kirstenbosch NBG: Greyia radlkoferi, October, 2004.
[2] Giles Mbambezeli, Kirstenbosch NBG:, Greyia sutherlandii, October, 2006.
[3] Giles Mbambezeli, Kirstenbosch NBG:, Greyia flanaganii Bolus, October, 2002.
[4] Exploring the World of Trees: Bottlebrush tree - Callistemon rigidus, January 2008.

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