Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website

Melaleuca citrina


Melaleuca citrina (Curtis) Dum.Cours.

Family Name: Myrtaceae
Synonyms: Callistemon citrinus (Curtis) Skeels
Common Name: Bottlebrush Tree, Crimson Bottlebrush, Lemon Bottlebrush, Lemon Scented Bottlebrush


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 8 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 6 m


Native Distribution Australia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form A large shrub to small tree, up to about 7-8m tall, with a life span of slightly over a decade in its place of origin.
Trunk It has brownish grey bark that becomes increasingly fissured with age, and has upright branches.
Foliage Leaves are alternate, simple, lanceolate to elliptical, about 7 x 2cm long, and texture is smooth and leathery. Young leaves have a silky texture, and may be pinkish or red. Despite the specific epithet citrinus, and the common name Lemon Scented Bottlebrush, the leaves are not very strongly scented and only emits a faint citrus fragrance when crushed.
Flowers Distinctive red inflorescences, in the form of “brushes” (hence the common names), in which the “bristles” are actually stamens (see etymology). The apical buds continue to grow leafy sections, resulting in the branches to appear to alternate between leafy and floral sections.
Fruit Small sessile woody capsules clustered around the stems. Each capsule contains numerous tiny seeds.
Similar To differentiate from its close relative Callistemon viminalis, one two major distinctions are is (1) the branches of M. citrina are upright and C. viminalis are drooping that and (2) M. citrina retains the seeds (in the fruit) on the tree for a long time, sometimes even for years, whereas C. viminalis sheds its seeds annually.
Cultivation Prefers well-drained, sandy loam soils with regular watering but can survive in poor soils with infrequent watering. Requires partial to full sun. Propagates from seeds and cuttings. Caution: Easily hybridizes with Callistemon species, resulting in highly variable offspring from seeds, therefore quality seed source is essential for volume planting of the typical form, otherwise propagation by cutting is preferred for retaining cultivars.
Ethnobotanical Uses Others: Flowers are used in floral arrangements. Wood can be used as firewood and for making tool handles.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Foliage)
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, General

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 2.5 (Tree - Open Canopy)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Red

Image Repository



Master ID 1479
Species ID 2772
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 22 March 2023.