Grevillea banksii in flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Proteaceae
Subfamily: Grevilleoideae
Genus: Grevillea
R.Br. ex Knight

See List of Grevillea species

Grevillea /ɡrˈvɪliə/[1] is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants in the family Proteaceae, native to rainforest and more open habitats in Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Sulawesi and other Indonesian islands east of the Wallace Line.[2] It was named in honour of Charles Francis Greville. The species range from prostrate shrubs less than 50 cm (20 in) tall to trees 35 m (115 ft) tall. Common names include grevillea, spider flower, silky oak and toothbrush plant. Closely related to the genus Hakea, the genus gives its name to the subfamily Grevilleoideae.

The brightly coloured, petal-less flowers consist of a calyx tube that splits into 4 lobes with long styles.[2]

They are good bird-attracting plants, honeyeaters in particular are common visitors. They are also used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the dryandra moth and the Pieris rapae (small white).


Many species of grevilleas are popular garden plants, especially in Australia but also in other temperate and subtropical climates. Many grevilleas have a propensity to interbreed freely, and extensive hybridisation and selection of horticulturally desirable attributes has led to the commercial release of many named cultivars. Among the best known is 'Robyn Gordon', a small shrub up to 1.5 m (5 ft) high and wide which can flower 12 months of the year in subtropical climates. The cultivar 'Canberra Gem' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[3]

They can be grown from soft tip cuttings from December–March (in the Southern Hemisphere) or seed. Many harder-to-grow species can be grafted onto hardy rootstock such as Grevillea robusta.

There is an active Grevillea Study Group in the Australian Native Plants Society for people interested in grevilleas, both for uses in horticulture and for conservation in the wild.


Traditional Aboriginal use

G. rosmarinifolia

Grevillea flowers were a traditional favourite among Aborigines for their sweet nectar. This could be shaken onto the hand to enjoy, or into a coolamon with a little water to make a sweet drink. They might be referred to as the original "bush lollies".

Drinking nectar direct from the flower is best avoided as some commonly cultivated grevillea species produce flowers containing toxic cyanide.[4][5]

Colonial furniture

A grevillea wood veneer was used on a Pembroke table, a small table with two drawers and folding sides, made in the 1790s for Commissioner of the Royal Navy, Sir Andrew Snape Hamond. The timber from which the veneer was made, referred to as 'beef wood', was sent from Port Jackson by Surgeon-General John White, who arrived in the new penal colony of Australia with the First Fleet. This table is in the collection of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.[6]


There are over 350 species which are endemic to Australia, including the following:

Five species are endemic to areas outside Australia. Three of these - G. exul., G. gillivrayi, and G. meisneri are endemic to New Caledonia while G. elbertii and G. papuana are endemic to Sulawesi and New Guinea respectively. Two other species, G. baileyana and G. glauca, occur in both New Guinea and Queensland.


  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. 1 2 RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
  3. "Grevillea 'Canberra Gem' AGM". RHS Plant Finder. Royal Horticultural Society. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  4. McKenzie, R., Cyanide, Strychnine Bush and Other Poisonous Hazards in the Queensland Flora: Have We Progressed Since C.T.White?, C.T.White Memorial Lecture for 2002
  5. Everist, S.L., Poisonous Plants of Australia, Angus & Robertson, 1974.
  6. First Fleet Table, National Museum of Australia
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Grevillea.
Wikispecies has information related to: Grevillea
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/14/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.