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Products > Callistemon 'Jeffers'
 
Callistemon 'Jeffers' - Purple Bottlebrush
   

 
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtles)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Violet
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Synonyms: [C. citrinus 'Jeffersii', Melaleuca]
Height: 6-10 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Callistemon 'Jeffers' (Purple Bottlebrush) - This variety bears reddish-purple flowers that fade to lavender. Its growth habit is smaller than the species, and is typically seen to about 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide. Older plants can get to around 10 feet and can be trained up into a small tree. The foliage is also smaller and narrower. Long, fuchsia-pink, stiff stamens form a long flower cluster that resembles a bottlebrush and blooms year-round, but the bloom peak is in the early summer through fall. The flowers attracts bees and hummingbirds. Quite tolerant of heat, cold and poor soil. We have been told that this plant has withstood temperatures in Oregon down to around 15 degrees F. Full sun, drought tolerant once established. The genus was named using the Greek words 'kallos' meaning "beautiful" and 'stemon' meaning "stamens" in reference to the long conspicuous and colorful stamens that characterize the flowers of this genus. There has been considerable discussion over the years about the valid name for this plant. The International Code of Nomenclature states that after January 1, 1959 it was illegitimate to use a Latinized word (such adding the two i's to Jeffers in this case to make the name Jeffersii) to a cultivar name. Unfortunately the date of origin of this plant is not known. The accession card at the Huntington Botanic Garden shows that they got this plant originally as Callistemon x jeffersii on November 6, 1966 from Seaborn Del Dios Nursery in Escondido, CA but consider the correct name now to be Callistemon 'Jeffers'. The Los Angeles State and County Arboretum first received it in 1972 from A.P. Griffiths as Callistemon rosea but now considers the valid name to be Callistemon citrinus 'Jeffers'. We have grown this plant since 1990 and originally offered it as Callistemon citrinus 'Jeffersii' but have removed the "i"s in the name to comply with Code of Nomenclature. Interestingly in the Supplement Edition #1 to Rodger Elliot and David Jones Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants they note under the listing Callistemon 'Jeffersii', "This is an American selection of doubtful origin. It is also marketed there as C. citrinus 'Jeffersii' and C. citrinus 'Violaceus'. It flowers during Sept-Dec [Australia] and has reddish-purple brushes which fade to lavender. Plants grow about 2-3 m x 1.5-2 m and have somewhat pendulous branches." To make matters even more confusing Melaleuca and Callistemon have long been noted as being closely related and were separated on the basis that Callistemon stamens are free and those of Melaleuca are in bundles. Carl Linnaeus had described the genus Melaleuca in 1767 and the Scottish botanist Robert Brown first described the genus Callistemon in 1814. As early as 1864 Ferdinand von Mueller, the German-Australian born physician, geographer and botanist who eventually became director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, noted that the difference between the genera was artificial and proposed to unite Callistemon and Melaleuca but it was not until 1998 that some plants in New Caledonia previously described as Callistemon were reclassified as Melaleuca by Australian botanist Dr. Lyndley Alan Craven of the Australian National Herbarium and New Zealand botanist Dr. John Wyndham Dawson. In 2006, using DNA evidence Craven reclassified nearly all species of Callistemon as Melaleuca in his article "New combinations in Melaleuca for Australian species of Callistemon" in Novon (V14 N4) and in 2009 he summarized this in a statement in an article titled "Melaleuca (Myrtaceae) from Australia" in Novon (V19 N4) noting that "During revisionary work directed toward the preparation of an account of Melaleuca L. and it closer allies for the Flora of Australia, the delimitation of Callistemon R. Brown from Melaleuca was considered. The conclusion was reached that Callistemon was insufficiently distinct from Melaleuca to be maintained at generic rank and those species which there was no valid name yet available in Melaleuca were transferred to that genus. Until such time that the new names have broad recognition in the California nursery trade we will still refer to these plants as Callistemon. Our plants from stock received from the Huntington Botanic Garden in 1985.  This description is based on our research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We will also incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information about this plant, in particular if this information is contrary to what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Callistemon 'Jeffers'.