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Australian native plant cultivars


This account of Australian native plant cultivars was written around 2002 while I (Roger Spencer) was Chairman of the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA). I wrote it as a document that would outline, for new committee members of the authority, some of the background and history to the operations of the authority. The article covers International Cultivar Registration Authorities, the role of ACRA, discussion of cultivars (origin, naming, merit), and a brief historical account of the people, collections, nurseries, and literature associated with the introduction of Australian native plant cultivars.

The use of cultivar names for the plants specially selected for horticulture, agriculture and forestry gives us greater understanding and control over a valuable economic resource. Dawson (1999) isolated five categories of use for Australian cultivars: a) ornament b) floristry and cut flowers c) forest industries d) ‘bush’ food e) agriculture – used either for food or ecological reasons (reduction of soil acidity etc.) (see also O’Neill, 1997; Payne, 1998).

International Cultivar Registration Authorities

International Cultivar Registration Authorities (ICRAs) are appointed by the International Society for Horticultural Science’s Commission for Nomenclature and Cultivar Registration (ICNCR) based at the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK and the and International Union of Biological Sciences, (IUBS). The function of ICRAs is discussed in the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (Cultivated Plant Code, CPC) where their main role is described as the registration of cultivar, Group, and grex epithets as provided for by the CPC, and with ensuring their establishment when this is necessary. (Brickell at al., 2009, Division IV, 2, p. 62). The purpose of this is to promote fixity and stability in the nomenclature of cultivars, Groups and grexes and to produce and promote authoritative checklists and registers of all names known to have been in use for the plants covered by individual ICRAs. The detailed role of ICRAs is discussed on the web page of the International Society for Horticultural science (ISHS) (see This web page includes:

a) A searchable database for locating plant-groups having an ICRA
b) A directory of ICRAs with contact details and information on their publications
c) Information about Symposia and other ICRA-related meetings past and future
d) Clickable access to the 8th (2009) Cultivated Plant Code
e) Clickable access to the The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Botanical Code) including purchasing details
f) Useful information on the formation and publication of cultivar names – essential for raisers of new cultivars
g) Information on the ISHS Commission for Nomenclature and Cultivar Registration
h) Information on the IUBS Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants

The main objectives of International Cultivar Registration Authorities are:

1. To register cultivar, Group and grex names in the denomination class for which they have accepted responsibility, and to ensure their publication and establishment
2. To record, publish, and make otherwise available, full lists of all cultivar, Group and grex names in that denomination class whether they are in current use or are part of the historical record so as to provide the world community with authoritative listings of names.
3. To maintain records, in as great a detail as is practical, of the origin, characteristics and history of each cultivar, Group and grex in that denomination class.


• Registration is the acceptance of a cultivar, Group or grex name by an auithority responsible for registering such names (see CPC 2009 Division IV, 1, p. 62, and Arts 25–28 pp. 39–45).
• An accepted epithet is the earliest one that does not contravene the Rules of the CPC.
• Acceptance of a name is not a judgment of either distinctness or horticultural merit (see Division IV, 5, p. 62).
• Establishment is publication according to Art. 27 of the 2009 CPC.
• An ICRA may also record trade designations and trademarks if they are known to have been used as marketing devices (see CPC Division IV, 6, p. 62).
• A denomination class is the unit (usually a genus) within which the use of a cultivar, Group, or grex epithet may not be duplicated except when re-use of an epithet is permitted in accordance with CPC 2009 Art. 30 (but see also CPC 2009 Art. 6.5 and CPC 2009 Art. 21.7).

The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA)

The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA) was established in 1963 as a non-statutory and voluntary National Registration Authority (under the ICNCR and IUBS) for the registration of cultivars of the indigenous flora of Australia (Young, 1975).

ACRA has the following aims that supplement those already stated for ICRAs (see above):

1. To register, in accordance with the international code of nomenclature for cultivated plants, names of cultivars of Australian native plants.
2. To record the names of all cultivars of Australian native plants and hybrids between Australian and exotic plants (excluding rhododendron and orchidaceae).
3. To encourage the horticultural development of the Australian flora.
4. To assess and describe cultivars submitted for registration.
5. To cooperate with other organisations and individuals engaged in activities compatible with these objectives.

The register serves to avoid name confusion, to record the history of origin of cultivars and to provide information about their characteristics and performance: it is a valuable historical record of native Plant domestication in Australia.

The first letter on the ACRA files is dated 4 Dec 1958: it was from H.R. Fletcher the secretary of the International Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants.
The formation of ACRA, initially based at the Royal Botanic garden Melbourne, is recorded in Australian Plants 1963 Volume 2 p. 71 and the first two cultivars registered by ACRA were described in the same volume on pages 302–305, they were Grevillea juniperina ‘Molongolo’ and Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’. However, about a decade later it is recorded that work had lapsed and the authority had been “reconstituted and based in Canberra” (Australian Plants 7: pp. 167, 179).

The “purpose, present function and future” of ACRA was assessed in 1982 by Registrar Geoff Butler (Butler, 1982) and a similar analysis given at the Second International Symposium on the Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants in Seattle in 1994 (Butler, 1995). Four years later in 1998 an updated overview of its activities was given by the new Registrar, Ian Dawson, at the Third International Symposium on the Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants in Edinburgh at which time 401 cultivars had been registered in 64 genera (Dawson, 1999). Table 1, taken from this paper, shows the composition ACRA Registrations (including PBR) as at 28 June 1998 in order of abundance. Nearly one third were Proteaceae and the majority of these were Grevillea cultivars. The Myrtaceae made up about a quarter of all registrations.

The main thrust of the ACRA work in the 21st century has been the transfer of information to the internet.

representation on the ACRA committee covers are broadly representative of the horticultural industry including botanic gardens from around Australia, members of the Australian Plants Society, a representative from the Nursery and Garden Industry Association, and IP Australia (Plant Breeders’ Rights Office). ACRA plays a major role in assisting IP Australia and the PBR Office with applications for plant breeders rights. Information about ACRA , its activities and registration procedure are given on the ACRA website: and

Table 1 – ACRA Registrations as at 28 June 1998 in order of abundance

Grevillea 112, Anigozanthos 35, Callistemon 32, Chamelaucium 30, Boronia 12, Correa 12, Crowea 12, Leptospermum 10, Bracteantha 9, Telopea 9, Acacia 8, Banksia 8, Eucalyptus 7, Brachyscome 6, Hardenbergia 6. Melaleuca 5, Pimelea 5, Agonis 4, Verticordia 4, Baeckea 3, Eucryphia 3, Pandorea 3, Prostanthera 3, Pultenaea 3, Westringia 3, Blechnum 2, Brachychiton 2, Ceratopetalum 2, Cyathea 2, Danthonia 2. Eremophila 2, Eriostemon 2, Lechenaultia 2, Lophostemon 2, Macadamia 2, Ozothamnus 2, Scaevola 2, Acmena 1, Actinodium 1, Astartea 1, Bauera 1, Callitris 1, Chrysocephalum 1, Clematis 1, Diplarrhena 1, Epacris 1, Hakea 1, Hypocalymma 1, Kennedia, Kunzea 1, Leucaena 1, Lomandra 1, Macropidia 1, Melia 1, Myoporum 1, Olearia 1, Plectranthus 1, Spyridium 1, Tetratheca 1, Themeda 1, Thryptomene 1, Xanthostemon 1

The Cultivar Register

Since its establishment in 1963 ACRA has maintained thorough records (a register) of cultivars submitted for registration, the total in 1998 being 401. Nevertheless, this total represents only a small proportion of the total number of cultivars that have been produced in Australia. In addition to this set of formally registered cultivars ACRA has also maintained a catalogue of commercially available cultivars that have not been registered. These records are a valuable social record detailing the fads and fashions of horticulture, the role and capacity of technology used in the process of breeding and selection at any particular time and a records of the places and interests of the people who produced them. In Australia this spans a period of only about 60 years.


In 2005 the ACRA committee discussed a proposal to unite the formal list of registered names with as many as possible of the other names that had been used for Australian cultivars. The production of such a checklist would comply more with the ICRA charter as set out above – to provide as complete a record as possible of all Australian native plant cultivars past and present. It was later decided that this combined register and checklist would initially be made available to all via the website of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and be incorporated with the Australian Plant Name Index database. This is now available as a “selectable” component of the Australian Plant Name Index at

It was also decided that in order to maintain an ongoing checklist of names it would be necessary to first establish a well-researched foundation of historical names complying, as far as possible, with the requirements of all ICRAs and formal nomenclatural accuracy. Funds were obtained [Paul – where?] and this historical research project commenced in ?February 2010.[Emma – and any other important notes]

Cultigens and cultivars

All those plants that have been deliberately altered and/or specially selected by humans are called cultigens. Those cultigens that require a name are given a name that is supplementary to the Latin botanical name and it is published and established in accordance with the Principles, Rules and Recommendations of the CPC. These additional cultigen epithets fall into three classification categories, the cultivar , the Group , and the grex. Examples would be:

Eucalyptus globulus ‘Compacta’ where Eucalyptus globulus is the Latin species name governed by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (Botanical Code) and ‘Compacta’ is the cultivar name governed by the Cultivated Plant Code.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon Red Flower Group includes all the red flower-colour variants (and their various habits of this species of eucalyptus.

An example of an orchid grex would be Dendrobium Caesar grex.

Many disputes about plant names could be avoided if it were possible to view the plants from which the original selection of a new cultivar was made. Ideally this would be most striking if it were a living plant.

For many years the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra maintained living specimens of some of the cultivars that had been registered with ACRA but this proved a costly and time-consuming project so many have now been lost. However, the recording of the cultivars through prepared herbarium specimens and colour illustrations (slide collection and digital images) and the ACRA Register and Checklist goes a long way to providing a link to the original plant.

Origin of cultivars

Novelties are produced by one of several major means: selection of seedling variants or variants in the wild, cuttings of ‘sports’, and deliberate breeding by hybridization (see Spencer, Cross & Lumley, 2007; CPC 2009, pp. 6 – 8). Cultivars are usually selected for desirable characters of habit (especially prostrate and compact forms), flower colour and unusual forms (double flowers, leaf variegation, fern frond malformations etc). Almost all Australian native cultivars have been produced from non-hybridised selections either from cultivated collections or in the wild or as seedling variants arising in cultivation, obvious exceptions to this general rule are the breeding programs associated with Anigozanthos, Leptospermum and Chamelaucium.

The journal Australian Plants has printed articles from time to time on native plant propagation (see Lamont, 1975) including micropropagation (Anon, 1982). Hybrids are produced by accidental and deliberate crossing, a notable accidental crossing being that of Grevillea banksia and G. bipinnatifida to produce ornamental variants worthy of further propagation. Deliberate hybridization with native plants has not proved as successful as for many exotic plants although the epiphytic orchids are an exception and a few hybrids have been produced in Eucalyptus, Prostanthera and Grevillea. Probably the most amenable genus has proved to be Anigozanthos, bred for improved attraction combined with resistance to ‘ink spot’ disease, and the production of hardy forms that can be cultivated in the cooler eastern states and for the international market and cut flower trade. Considerable work has also been done on Leptospermum and Chamelaucium.

In the orchids early breeding was done with primary parents Dendrobium kingianum for interesting growth forms and flower colours and sizes, and D. tetragonum var. giganteum for spectacular flowers and repeat flowering but also a number of hardcane species. In carrying out crossing experiments, to be given cultivar status initial variants need to be maintained in perpetuity by either vegetative propagation or by seed if first generation crosses can retain the desired characters.

Merit of novelties

There is a temptation to perpetuate some novelties simply because they are new, even though they do not have any other special characteristics. ACRA does not have the jurisdiction to assess the merit of new cultivars. However it does, when possible, recommend that originators of new cultivars be strongly encouraged to introduce to commerce only those novelties that show some distinct merit over existing species and cultivars (see Elliot & Jones p. 40).

Historical background

Of the 16,000 or so Australian native species about 2,000 are commonly cultivated (Dawson, 1999 p. 109).

Settlement years

Native plants have been grown since the days of earliest settlement for both utility and ornament. However, in Victoria for example, in spite of the great interest in gardening and the presence of numerous exotic plant cultivars in genera like Camellia, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Dianthus, Fuchsia, Pelargonium, Rosa and Rhododendron the deliberate breeding and selection of native plants, if any, was on an extremely small scale. An inventory of plants listed in Victorian nursery catalogues between 1888 and 1889 yields a couple of Banksia provenances, a few “varieties” of Correa and Acacia, Eucalyptus leucoxylon ‘Rosea’ and ‘Coccinea’, white and pink forms of Hardenbergia violacea and only 13 or so Grevillea species cultivated (Brookes & Barley, 1992).

1900s to 1950s native plant pioneers

The use of native plants alone in gardens would have been considered rather eccentric until the establishment of the native plant movement through the 1950s and 60s. This movement was the manifestation of interested plant growers and nurserymen who had managed to convey their enthusiasm for native plants to a wide public. These native plant pioneer growers and nurserymen had begun their interest in the early part of the century and their work was at its height in the 1940s and 1950s (Payne, 1982). Included among these early enthusiasts were George Althofer, Bill Cane, David Gordon, Leo Hodge, Fred Payne, and George Trapnel, all of whom selected new cultivars that remain in use today (see biographic details later).

1960s to 1980s bush gardens

In the enthusiasm of the 1960s and 70s the Australian flora provided a new, exciting and unexplored palette of plants. A visit to a native plant nursery would reveal many rarely cultivated treasures – some of which might be rather inappropriate for a city suburb, others grown only with difficulty. It was at this time that native “bush gardens” joined the horticultural mainstream and it was also a period of experimentation. Since that time the botanical and horticultural landscape has been transformed by the greater inclusion of native plants.

Indigenous plants

Formed in 1957 by Arthur Swaby, at first in Victoria, but later in other states, was the popular Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants now the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) promoting native plant cultivation. This has remained the foremost organization promoting the cultivation of Australian native plants.

In the 1970’s conservation was gathering significance in both the community and government departments. Increasing areas of indigenous habitat were set aside as reserves and National Parks along with concern about environmental weeds. Emphasis was on restoration and revegetation. One significant step occurred in 1986 with the formation of the Indigenous Flora and Fauna Association to Promote awareness and conservation of indigenous flora and fauna which it has done by conserving remnant vegetation, using indigenous plants in rehabilitation and landscaping, providing local information and publish a newsletter called Indigenotes. The movement later spread to New South Wales. Aims for the conservation and promotion of native plants were reformulated in 2004.

Gardens and arboreta

A directory of Australian botanic gardens and arboreta has been compiled by Murray Fagg and Jan Wilson (1998).

The growing of cultivars was encouraged by the proliferation of parks, reserves and both private and public gardens, including botanic gardens, dedicated to the growth of native plants. These included: the evolution of the Australian National Botanic Gardens through the 1930s and 40s, Jervis Bay Botanic Gardens (ANBG Annex, 1951; becoming Booderee National Park and Botanic Gardens in 1995); the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne annex at Cranbourne (1960s to the present); Burrendong Arboretum (1964), King’s Park and Botanic Garden (Approved 1962,opened Oct 1965), The North Coast Regional Botanic Garden, Coffs Harbour (gazetted 1975, work begun 1981); Mount Annan Botanic Garden (1984-5). More recently there is the Olive Pink Botanic Garden in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Port Augusta, South Australia and the Australian Inland Botanic Gardens, Mildura, Victoria. Various sites have been devoted to single genus collections built up either by SGAP Study Groups or the former Ornamental Plant Collections Association. Among these are the Callistemon collection of Harry Infield at his Callistemon arboretum at Demesne Park on the mid-north coast of New South Wales (he also raised many new selections) and the collection of Brisbane nurseryman Ted Knight who ran a Callistemon nursery in the school grounds of the Redlands Special School in Thornlands and was assisted by Brisbane grower Colin Cornford. The SGAP Grevillea Study Group established a Grevillea collection in Illawarra (Payne, 2002). For Correa there was the 3.2 ha Katandra Gardens 50km east of Melbourne at the foot of the Dandenong Range (B. & D. O’Niel, 2003).

Nurseries and collections

Much of the history of native plant cultivars relates to the nurseries and sites where those people who raised the new plants were working. The following is a sample of the more influential native plant nurseries that would have supplied the new cultivars of their day.

Boddy’s Eastern Park Nursery Geelong supplied native plants including 150 grevilleas with some hybrids and cultivars as well as Schubert’s Nursery at Noble Park, Victoria (Elliot & Jones Vol. 5, p. 11).

Cadwell Nursery, Annangrove, New South Wales, property of Mr S Cadwell used the prefix Boongala for many of his selections most notable of which is G. ‘Boongala Spinebill’. G. ‘Sid Cadwell’.

Kentlyn Nursery, Kentlyn, New South Wales in 1980s G. ‘Mason’s Hybrid’.

Myall Park, a 90 ha property and garden and herbarium at Glenmorgan, in south-west Queensland from 1941 with proprietor horticulturist and grazier David Gordon (David Morrice Gordon, 1899–2001) who produced a number of important Grevillea cultivars in the 1960s, notably two named after his daughters: ‘Robyn Gordon’ (1963) and ‘Sandra Gordon’ (1968), and also ‘Mason’s Hybrid’, G. ‘Merinda Gordon’. [Pic of David Gordon pg. 66 of Banksias etc.] The property continues as Myall park Botanic Garden Ltd, being formed in 1991.

Payne’s Nursery

Poorinda the property of Leo Hodge (Leomin Hodge, 1904–1994) at W Tree, near Buchan, in East Gippsland, Victoria, growing native plants in the 1940s and producing a number of Grevillea cultivars – releasing four in the early 1950s, the first four being ‘Poorinda Queen’, ‘Poorinda Pink Coral’, ‘Poorinda Leanne’ and ‘Poorinda Queen’in 1952, and later ‘Poorinda Constance’, continuing to produce cultivars until about 1968, one of the last being ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ in 1967-8, one of the most successful of all native plant cultivars. Using hand pollination techniques he developed forty-five grevillea hybrids, and he included the name of his property in the names of selected grevillea cultivars (Aitken & Looker, 2002).

Clearview Nursery, Maffra, Victoria was run by Bill Cane. It was planted out in the 1940s, mainly with eucalypts. Bill was a friend of Leo Hodge and a founding member of the SGAP. He raised G. ‘Clearview David’ in the 1940s. Also at this time G. ’Clearview John’ and ‘Clearview Robin’ and also some Callistemon cultivars.

Nindethana Nursery, Dripstone, central western slopes of New South Wales was established in 1935 as a native seed and plant nursery managed by George Althofer (George William Althofer, 1903–1993, brother Peter Althofer, 1918–1991) a pioneer grower of native plants who began his collection in the 1920s. G. ‘Coral’ (1956), G. ‘Audrey’ (1957), G. ‘Glen Sandra’ and ‘Glen Pearl’ (1960), and G. ‘Dorothy’ (1963), named after David Gordon’s wife. He also specialized in the Mintbush genus Prostanthera, publishing a botanical account of the genus, Cradle of Incense in 1978. George’s brother Peter established and managed the Burrendong Arboretum at Wellington in New South Wales.

Austraflora Nursery, (Proprietor Rodger Elliot established this nursery at Croydon (Vic) in 1959, later moving to Bayswater (1963) then Montrose (1968); it was leased in 1973 to Bill Molyneux then sold in 1982. The nursery has released many cultivars and under Bill Molyneux has specialized in selecting and developing new native plant cultivars. As the name Austraflora is now a trademark it cannot be included as part of the cultivar name as was once the case. Releases include Callistemon pallidus ‘Candle Glow’ and ‘Firebrand’ (1973), Grevillea ‘McDonald park’ (1967), G. ‘Copper Crest’ (1975), G. ‘Lyrebird’ (1979), G. ‘Bon Accord’ in 1982. Bush Gems Garden Nursery, Victoria, noted for the selection of genetic resistance to the fungus disease Ink Spot in Anigosanthos, the Bush Gems series of cultivars being marketed by Biotec Australia.

Crystal Waters Nursery, Victoria produced Boronia megastigma ‘Heaven Scent’.

Chandlers Nursery, Victoria Boronia megastigma ‘Jack Macguire’s Red’.

Native Flora Sanctuary, Addison Ave, Athelstone, South Australia, proprietor F.C. Payne Thryptomene ‘F.C. Payne’

• Save the Trees Campaign Research Nursery at Zillmere, Brisbane, was run by pioneer native plant grower George Trapnell ((Walter) George Trapnell, 1919–1998) in the 1970s (now disbanded). He raised selections of Callistemon cultivars.

Coomba Park, Harry Infield’s property on the mid-north coast of New South Wales has a callistemon arboretum called Demesne Park. Harry was, for many years, leader of the SGAP Callistemon Study Group.

Lullfitz Nursery, Established in 1975 by George Lullfitz, Lullfitz Nursery has specialized in the propagation, growing and promotion of West Australian Native Plants. Situated to the north-east of the Wanneroo township on 4 acres, the Nursery stocks a vast range of Australian plants and is open to the public 7 days a week. New introductions of native plants are made available and promoted by Lullfitz Nursery every year. The introduction of a plant tissue culture laboratory several years ago, has enabled the nursery to propagate and breed plants that were previously difficult to produce by conventional means.

Books and authors

Along with the gathering interest in growing native plants that occurred over the period 1940 to 1970 came the desire to communicate information and enjoyment through journals and books (see e.g. Payne, 1995)

Bill Payne (William Herbert Payne, 1926-2005) was editor of the quarterly journal Australian Plants which began publication in 1959 at 3 shillings per issue. It was the main means of communication for Australian native plant enthusiasts and nurserymen and was published by the (then) state Societies for Growing Australian Plants. Even at this time the national Society for Growing Australian Plants (which became the Australian National Plant Society (Australia) ANPSA in September 2007 as the federal body with state chapters known as the “Australian Plant Society, NSW “etc., this was after a brief period as the Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants (ASGAP), which was formed by Arthur Swaby in 1957, supported many study groups that specialized in particular genera (this is still an important source of specialist knowledge as each study group produces its own Newsletter) and it was instrumental in the formation of ACRA in 1963 (Blackmore, 2007; Walters, 2007).

Although native plants have been grown since settlement, it was only in the 1950s that gardens of native plants captured wide public appeal. Bill Payne was a founding member of both ACRA and the Australian Flora Foundation, the latter aiming to: “foster research into the biology and cultivation of Australian plants by funding research projects, giving prizes for research, organising seminars, publishing research findings and by any other effective means.” ACRA would meet once a year and the journal Australian Plants would publish descriptions and illustrations of the new registrations. There was a conspectus of registrations A–C in 1988 (Payne, 1989)

In 1988 ACRA produced a booklet Garden Varieties of Australian Plants Vol 1 (1988) with a forward by Don Burke congratulating ACRA members, especially Ben Wallace (Horticultural Botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney), John Wrigley (Horticultural Botanist at the National Botanic Gardens Canberra) and Geoff Butler (ACRA Registrar) on the first of what was intended to be many volumes (see also Payne, 1988). Its publication was been flagged in Australian Plants in 1985 (Payne, 1985). Financial assistance was provided by the Society for Growing Australian Plants New south Wales and Queensland Region and the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney but unfortunately only one volume was published. The Introduction by John Wrigley describes the 31 cultivars that were illustrated and described as “a few of the most outstanding registered Australian cultivars that are currently available” and acknowledges the work of Bill Payne in the preparation of a draft of the book.

It was during this period that knowledge of the state Floras was undergoing substantial revision. Plant descriptions were coming out of the academic journals and literature and into the public domain and this too would have fuelled interest. J. M. Black’s Flora of South Australia (first published in 1922–29) was completely revised in 1986; in Victoria the early work of von Mueller and Ewart’s Flora of Victoria (1930) was made more accessible by the pocket-size Jim Willis’s A Handbook to Plants in Victoria (1962–72) which was superseded by the large four-volume flora treatment Flora of Victoria by Foreman, Walsh and Entwisle (1993–99); the Flora of New South Wales edited by Gwen Harden (1990–93); a Flora of Central Australia in 1981. Along with these scientific publications came outstanding pictorial accounts of specific regions, Western Australia, the Grampians, the Blue Mountains and more would have increased the desire to grow native plants.

In 1981 the first volume of the massive Flora of Australia project was launched. This included lichens but algae and fungi were treated as separate groups. By 2010 about 31 volumes had been produced. This project ran almost in parallel with another ambitious undertaking, the 9-volume Encylopaedia of Australian Plants, a horticultural account of the Australian flora (including cultivars) by Rodger Elliot and David Jones with botanical illustrator Trevor Blake (1980–2010). David Jones in particular has been astoundingly prolific botanically, combining his botanical and horticultural work to produce a steady stream of botanically authoritative accounts of large and complex cultivated plant groups both in Australia and the world including ferns (1987, Jones & Clemesha 1981), orchids (Jones, 1988), palms (2000a, 2000b), climbing plants and cycads (1993), and discussing cultivars where this was appropriate. While at the same time Rodger Elliot and his wife Gwen have been key figures in the horticultural promulgation of native plants. Volume 1 of the Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants by Elliot and Jones contains a section on the History of Australian Plants in Cultivation. This includes a history of Australian plants in cultivation overseas, a history of eucalypts in cultivation, and a history of Australian plants and their horticultural development in Australia (Elliott & Jones, 1980-2010). A wide range of cultivars are briefly described in this 9-volume publication with the cultivars in some genera, like Callistemon, being given more detailed treatment so, for example, the cultivars of C. citrinus and C. viminalis are tabulated for easy comparison.

John Wrigley and Murray Fagg from the National Botanic Gardens in Canberra described a number of cultivars in their Native Plants of Australia in 1979. But the genera Banksia, Grevillea, and Telopea were covered by them in much more historical detail in 1989 (Wrigley & Fagg, 1989), and Callistemon, Melaleuca and Leptospermum in 1993 (Wrigley & Fagg, 1993).

Among the first cultivars and probably the oldest of the Callistemon cultivars is Callistemon ‘Harkness’, purchased as C. citrinus in 1937 and propagated for commercial release in Gawler, South Australia in 1948: it is still a widely grown and reliable cultivar. This appears to have been pre-dated by Boronia megastigma ‘Jack Macguire’s Red’ a selection from seedlings raised in Chandlers Nursery Victoria in 1928.

The people who raised them – plant personalities

The history of cultivar production is studded with colourful and interesting personalities. The following list is by no means exhaustive: it attempts to include only people who have produced or who strongly influenced the production of native plant cultivars. Historical information is derived largely from Aitken & Looker (2002).

Althofer, George William (1903–1993) – Seed merchant, nursery proprietor and advocate of the “Bush Garden”. A self-trained botanist who established a small arboretum at Dripstone, CW New South Wales which, in 1935, became Nindethana Nursery. He later established Burrendong Arboretum in 1964 (Althofer, 1977) near Wellington in New South Wales and this was managed by his brother Peter (1918–1991) who shared George’s interests and joined him on many of his seed collecting expeditions. His publications include The Story of Nindethana (1959) and Cradle of Incense (1979).

Blombery, Alexander Morris (1913-2002) – A prolific early writer, educator, authority on native plants and early member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants. Notable publications incude: Native Australian Plants: Their Propagation and Cultivation (1955), A Guide to Native Auastralian Plants (1967), and What Wildflower is That? (1973) (see Leech, 2003).

Cane, William Lancashire (1911–1987) – Nurseryman and selector of cultivars was a pioneer native plant enthusiast planting out a large eucalypt arboretum on his property in Maffra in the 1940s. He was a friend of Leo Hodge (Anon, 1978) and shared his enthusiasm for grevilleas, naming his new introductions with the prefix Clearview, the name of his property. He was a foundation member of the SGAP. Banksia canei was named by Jim Willis in recognition of his work.

Elliot, Winston Rodger (b. 1941) – Nursery proprietor and author who established the nursery Austraflora at Croydon (Vic) in 1959, later moving to Bayswater (1963) then Montrose (1968). He worked briefly for Edna Walling (1960-61) and Eric Hammond (1961-66). For many years he wrote for Your Garden magazine but is perhaps best known for his booklet An Introduction to the Grampians Flora and the 9-volume Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants coauthored with David Jones (1980–2010). Austraflora was leased in 1973 to Bill Molyneux then sold in 1982. The nursery has released many cultivars and under Bill Molyneux has specialized in selecting and developing new native plant cultivars. Rodger Elliot’s wife Gwen has also written widely on native plants, conducted tours. Through the business Outback Plants Rodger Elliot markets plants to America, Europe and Japan.

Fagg, Murray [entry here]

George Lullfitz – (see Verbeeten, 2006)

Gordon, David Morrice (1899–2001) – Born in Talbot, Victoria, David Gordon was a grazier, and pioneer native plant horticulturist who, starting in 1941, developed an outstanding native plant garden called Myall Park at Glenmorgan Queensland. His wife Dorothy Curtis (1930–1985) was a botanical artist. He is perhaps best known for his Grevillea selections named after his daughters Roby and Sandra Gordon. The park became Myall Park Botanic Garden in 1991.

Hodge, Leomin (1904–1994) – An early pioneer of native plant cultivation Leo was born in Meredith, Victoria, moving to E Gippsland with his family in 1905 where he lived on the property called ‘Poorinda’ which was to serve as the prefix for his cultivars, many of which were grevilleas that he had bred using hand pollination on his property at W Tree. His collection dated back to the 1940s and he introduced about 45 grevillea hybrids and selections. His exceptional garden reached its peak in the 1950s.

?Hodge, Merv

Molyneux, William Mitchell (b.1935) – Landscaper, horticulturist and field botanist ‘Bill’ was born and raised in Footscray and trained at Burnley College, Victoria. He has travelled extensively collecting and describing the native flora, concentrating on Acacia, Callistemon and Grevillea. In 1973 he took over the management of Austraflora Nursery from where he has introduced many new cultivars.

?Oakman, Henry Octave

Payne, Frederick Cyril (1893–1972) – Nurseryman and pioneer promoter of Australian native plants he established his native plant nursery in Torrensville, South Australia, in the 1940s. With a successful business this was re-established as Paynes’s Nursery (often referred to as ‘The Sanctuary’) including a display of wildflowers. This nursery became known as the Athelstone Wildflower garden and Nursery and was acquired by the Campbelltown City Council (1963). In 1974 after being taken over by the state the nursery was made part of the Black Hill Native Fllora Park Trust designed by Lindsay Prior. Several cultivars are derived from ‘Fred’s’ nursery probably the best known being Thryptomene ‘F.C. Payne’.

Payne, William Herbert (1926-2005) – ‘Bill’ was editor of the quarterly journal Australian Plants which began publication in 1959 at 3 shillings per issue. It was the main means of communication for Australian native plant enthusiasts and nurserymen and was published by the (then) state Societies for Growing Australian Plants. He was a founding member of both ACRA and the Australian Flora Foundation, the latter aiming to: “foster research into the biology and cultivation of Australian plants by funding research projects, giving prizes for research, organising seminars, publishing research findings and by any other effective means.”

(See: NSW Regional Council, 2002; Olde, 2005; Crawford, 2007).

Pryor, Lindsay Dixon (1915–1998) – Landscape architect, horticulturist, forester and botanist relates to cultivars through not only hiswork on the genetics and breeding of eucalyptsfrom 1949-1958 but also his wide influence on public landscape philosophy, being Director, Parks and Gardens in the ACT (1944–1958) and his emphasis on indigenous species and genetically sound native plant stock.

Swaby, Arthur James (1887–1979) – Though not a producer of cultivars, Arthur was a great inspiration to growers and the native plant movement in general through his column ‘Know Your Natives’ (1964–1960) in Your Garden magazine and as the prime mover in the initiation of the Society For Growing Australian Plants.
George Trapnell

Wrigley, John Walter (b. 1934) – Curator of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra (1967–81) before moving to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. He promoted the idea of Regional Botanic Gardns including those at Coffs Harbour, Tamworth and Mildura. He had a term as National president of SGAP and authored several books with Murray Fagg detailing native plant cultivars including Australian Native Plants (1979), Banksias, Waratahs and Grevilleas (1989) and Bottlebrushes, Paperbarks and tea Trees (1993).

Plant Breeder’s Rights

The advantage of registering a new cultivar with an international cultivar registration authority is that the plant becomes fully documented and “on the record”. The likelihood of nomenclatural and identification problems is thus greatly reduced.

However, with improved technology and increasing commercial demands for protection of new cultivars those people raising new cultivars needed a way of taking financial advantage of their research by preventing other people from propagating and selling their new plants – this became possible with the introduction of Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR). The original Australian Plant Variety Rights Act was passed in 1987 and superseded by the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act in 1994. For a fee PBR gave legal protection for the cultivar over a period as well as for the “commercial” name chosen.

Over the period 1987 to 1992 in the early days of PBR program the ornamental native plants submitted for protection were: Acacia (3), Acmena (1), Agonis (1), Anigozanthos (5), Banksia (2), Boronia (3), Brachyscome (4), Callistemon (1), Chamelaucium (21), Danthonia (2), Grevillea (2), Hardenbergia (3), Helipterum (1), Lechenaultia (4), Leptospermum (1), Macadamia (2), Pimelea (1), Scaevola (1), Syzygium (1), Telopea (2), Xanthostemon (1).

With PBR came the emergence of organizations that were more professional and commercially astute in their marketing, and often operating on a much larger scale than earlier nurseries. There was the emergence of dedicated companies targetting the overseas markets, especially those in floristry. In 1996 the Australian Native Flower Growers and Promoters Inc. was formed to take advantage of the increase in world demand for exported cut flowers (Payne, 1996).

ACRA provides IP Australia’s Plant Breeder’s Rights Office with an advisory service for Australian native plant applications as well as the herbarium facilities used for the storage of specimens registered with PBR (for which there is a small fee to the rights applicant). These herbarium specimens are designated as nomenclatural standards under the CPC and housed in the herbarium as a standard portfolio .

Taking out ACRA registration does not protect a cultivar from propagation and sale by others, but it does preclude others taking out PBR on the cultivar, and this is a valuable function for some growers.

Also, under Article 15 of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, access to genetic resources must be subject to prior informed consent on mutually agreed terms. Proper documentation of the resource (plant cultivar) helps in the enforcement of these provisions.

Present-day breeding and selection

Entries in the Plant Varieties Journal indicate that most native plant introductions are “one-offs” few applicants make repeated applications in the same plant genus – with the exception of a few specialist companies. The lack of large-scale breeding and selection for native plants may be related to the cost of PBR and the extensive work needed to draw up descriptions, carry out trials and submit applications – also to a possibly more lucrative market in exotics. The following is a list of companies using PBR to protect new native plant cultivars: it may be used as a contact list to check for new cultivar introductions and for specialist knowledge in particular genera.

Agriculture Western Australia, South Perth, Western Australia. (Phil Watkins) Boronia, Chamelaucium
Austraflora Pty Ltd, Dixons Creek, Victoria. (Bill Molyneux) Acacia, Grevillea, Telopea
Australian Native Produce Indistries Pty Ltd (S. Sykes) Citrus
Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, West Perth, WA. (Patrick Courtney) Lechenaultia
Burbank Biotechnology Pty Ltd, Wyong, NSW
Bywong Nursery, Bungendore, NSW (Peter Ollerenshaw) Grevillea, Leptospermum
Byron Bay Native Produce, Bangalow, NSW. (Erika Birmingham) Citrus (Microcitrus)
Greenhills Propagation Nursery Pty Ltd, Tynong, Vic. (Mark Lunghusen) Boronia
Koala Blooms, Monbulk, Victoria (M. Lunghusen) Bracteantha
Redlands Nursery Pty Ltd, Redlands Bay, Queensland (Ed Bunker) Bracteantha, Callistemon, Leptospermum
Russell & Sharin Costin, Limpinwood, New South Wales. Syzygium
Oasis Horticulture Pty Ltd, Wimmalee, NSW (Mat Turner) Bracteantha
Ornatec Pty Ltd, Birkdale, Queensland. Grevillea
Pacific Plant Development Pty Ltd, Balmoral Village, NSW (Tom Cuneen) Brachyscome
George Lullfitz, Wanneroo, WA. (George Lullfitz) Grevillea
Western Flora, Coorow, Western Australia. (Brian Jack) Chamelaucium
Yellow Rock Native Nursery Pty Ltd, Winmalee, NSW. (Neil Kirby) Ceratopetalum

In 1996 Koala Blooms Australia released their first collection of plants in the Koala Blooms Export Quality Range (Koala Blooms Australia, 1996). Koala Blooms had been in operation since 1990 and discovered that Israel and other European countries had been selling Australian plants for some time but with no financial benefit (as sales royalties) being returned to Australian breeders and originators or the Australian horticultural industry. Koala Blooms established a system whereby all Koala Blooms plants sold in Australia or overseas would pay a royalty to the breeder or person who assigned the rights for Koala Blooms to market them and greater royalties are paid for plants that can be protected by PBR or patents. Koala Blooms was increasing its market in the USA with releases like Brachyscome ‘Mardi Gras’ and other Brachyscome cultivars.

PBR Trials Consultants assist people with cultivar enquires in their specialist groups.

Anigozanthos Ian Paananen, Greg Kirby, Dan Smith
Ficus Liz Darmody, Dan Fitzhenry, Graham Fleming, Zoee Maddox, David Pullar
Grevillea Mark Heyington
Myrtaceae Bob Dunstone
Proteaceae Gail barth, Neil Kirby, John Robb, Ben Robinson, Peter Scholefield, Dan Smith

Plant cultivar studies – Burnley College

Between 1999 and 2004 the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and the University of Melbourne, Burnley College, established a program to improve the documentation of cultivars in Australia (Spencer & Adler, 2000). Students in the Plant Materials course at Burnley were matched with a mentor (generally a collector or nurseryman) associated with the origin of a cultivar and, as an assignment, the student would provide a detailed description and diagnosis of the cultivar, including details of its origin and history as well as a herbarium specimen and a colour photocopy (to extend the record of flower and foliage colour) housed in the Horticultural Reference Herbarium at RBG Melbourne as a standard portfolio for the cultivar. Some of these descriptions were published in Australian Horticulture, the first being Banksia ‘Giant Candles’ in 2000. With staff restructuring at Burnley College the program ceased in 2005 but by this time students had prepared more than 160 detailed formal descriptions, many of these being for native plants. For several years the descriptions and images were also made available on the internet. The student assignments included both native plants and exotics and can now be viewed on TROVE.

List of cultivars

The following list of native plant genera is a summary reference to information and key literature concerning the production, cultivation and research done on cultivars within each genus.

Acacia has been the subject of a SGAP Study Group (Eisen, 2004). Most cultivars are the result of open pollination and seedling selection although Acacia ‘Scarlet Blaze’ is a wild selection. Selections have been made of A. pravissima and there is the very popular Acacia cognata ‘Limelight. The popular Acacia cardiophylla ‘Wyalong Wattle’ and A. cognata ‘Green Mist’ were produced by Tree Planters nursery, Springvale, Melbourne.

Boden, Robert W. 1969. ‘Variation and Inheritance of Flowering in Acacia baileyana.’ Australian Plants 5: 230-1, 235-6.
Philp, J. & Sherry, S.P. 1946. ‘The Degree of Natural Crossing in Green Wattle Acacia decurrens Willd. and its Bearing on Wattle Breeding.’ Journal of the South African Forestry Association 14: 1–28.
Cross, Rob 2001. ‘Acacia leprosa ‘Scarlet Blaze’: Victoria’s Federation Flower.’ Australian Plants 21(169): 199–201.
Hitchcock, M. 2004. ‘The Dwarf Acacia Cultivar Evolution.’ Australian Plants 22(180): 323–325.

Acacia amblygona ‘Austraflora Winter Gold. 1978 AP 10: 169–170.
Acacia pravissima ‘Golden Carpet’. 1978 AP 10: 170.

Acmena smithii ‘Hedgemaster’ Don Burke, Kenthurst seedling selection. See also Syzygium for “Lilly Pilly” selections.

Actinotus helianthi ‘Starbright’ was raised by RBG Sydney in 1997 by recurrent phenotypic selection over 9 years and tested for tissue culture and hardiness.

Adenanthos meissneri has been the subject of seedling selection and propagation by cuttings.

Cultivars in this genus are all selections of A. flexuosa selected for their pendulous, exceptionally fine, broad or variegated foliage, or low and compact habit.

Agonis flexuosa ‘Variegata’ AP 1976 8: 325-326.
Agonis flexuosa ‘Fairy Foliage’ AP 1977 9: 80.

From the earliest days of native plant cultivation Kangaroo Paw has had ornamental appeal. Breeders include Burbank Biotechnology Pty Ltd, Wyong, NSW from about 1995. In recent times there has been increasing use of controlled pollination and micropropagation e.g. Forbio Plants Pty Ltd and Yates Botanicals Pty Ltd, Somersby (see Hopper, 1979).

Oliver, K.R. 1971. ‘New Kangaroo Paws.’ Australian Plants 6: 60-64.
Anon. 1971. ‘A New Hibiscus Hybrid. (Hibiscus ‘Wirruna’).’ Australian Plants 6: 104.
Anigosanthos ‘Pin Joey’ AP 1976 8: 326-327.
Motum, G., Stewart, I.A. & Goodwin, P.B. 1985 ”Kangaroo Paw. A Hybridisation and Breeding Program.” Australian Plants 13 (105): 196–199.
Dixon, Bob & Sue 1991. “Kangaroo paw – Plants for Horticulture – Forms and Iterspecific and Intraspecific Hybrids.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 47–50.
Hansa, Alex, Fairhill Nursery 1991. “Hybrid Paws in Queensland.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 51.
Moore, Alison 1991. “Growing Hybrid Kangaroo Paws in Tasmania.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 51–52.
Oliver, Keith R. 1991. “Hybrid Kangaroo Paws.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 53.
Bowden, Adrian G. 1991. “The Western Star Kangaroo Paws.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 62–65. (with list)
Biotech 1991. “The “Bush Gem” Hybrid Kangaroo Paws.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 66. (with list)
Anon 1991. “The Southern Aurora Kangaroo Paws.” Australian Plants 16 (126): 67–69.
ACRA 1991. “Kangaroo Paw Cultivars”. Australian Plants 16 (126): 75–76.
Payne, William H. 1994. “Kangaroo Paws in Horticulture”. Australian Plants 18 (141): 21.
Dietch, Dick 1991. Hybrid Kangaroo Paws – The Victa Mower Versus Ink disease. Australian Plants 16 (128): 174–178.
Oliver, Keith, R. 1992 “Kangaroo paws – Pests and Diseases.” Australian Plants 17 (133): 23–26.
Anderson, Richard 1992. “‘Bush Gem’ Kangaroo Paws.” Australian Plants 17 (133): 27–29.
Scarvelis, John 2003. ‘Australia’s Kangaroo Paws.’ Australian Plants 22(176): 107–114.

Baeckea virgata ‘Howie’s Feathertips’and ‘Howie’s Sweet Midget’ are seedling variants.

Banksia from the Waite Agricultural Research Institute of the University of Adelaide. ‘Waite Crimson’, ‘Waite Flame’.WM Molyneux Austraflora ‘Birthday Candles’ seedling selection. Banksia canei ‘Celia Rosser’ the specific epithet commemorating Bill Cane is a chance seedling.

Sedgley, Margaret 1999. New Banksia released (inc. Research reports (with Mary Rieger, and Banksia as a Cut-flower and for General Horticulture). Australian Plants 20 (158): 43–55.

B. rubioides double flowers

B. thujona – double flowers. B. megastigma ‘Chandleri’ commemorates the Chandler family who lived in the township of Boronia in the foothills of the Dandenongs where they had a nursery (Chandlers Nursery) and grew Boronia for the cut flower industry.
Hybrids e.g. Boronia heterophylla x B. megastigma ‘Purple Jared’ have been produced by the University of WA.

Bert Chandler & Son 1963. ‘The Brown Boronia and its Forms.’ Australian Plants 2: 144-45.
Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (1982). ‘Australian Plant Cultivars.’ Australian Plants 11(90): 263

Plant Growers Australia of Wonga Park have made selections of Brachyscome using controlled and open pollination and selection. Brachyscome ‘Toucan Tango’ was raised in Germany by Innova Plant GmbH & Co KG.


Cultivars are either wild selections or the result of controlled pollination and propagation of selections by vegetative tip cuttings as at Redlands Nursery also by Rodger and Gwen Elliot.

Bracteantha bracteata ‘Diamond Head’ AP 1977 9: 204 (comment p. 205); 1990 (124): 342.
Bracteantha bracteata ‘Barleythorpe’ AP 1990 15 (124): 341.
Bracteantha bracteata ‘Cockatoo’ AP 1990 15 (124): 341
Bracteantha bracteata ‘Dargan Hill Monarch’ AP 1990 15 (124): 341
Bracteantha bracteata ‘Golden Bowerbird’ AP 1990 15 (124): 342
Bracteantha bracteata ‘Hastings Gold’ AP 1990 15 (124): 342
Bracteantha bracteata ‘Princess of Wales’ AP 1990 15 (124): 343

Gorst, Janet R. & O’Brien, Lin 2002. ‘Bracteantha Micropropagation.’ Australian Plants 21(171): 307.

Over 300 cultivars of callistemon have been named, only 23 of which have been submitted to ACRA for registration, but there is considerable confusion over their identity and, as many in fact may be the same, perhaps the total number is fewer. Most callistemon cultivars have been selected for flower colour or habit. Callistemon viminalis especially has been the selection of habit variations taken from its wide natural distribution range. These habit variants have been the source of some nomenclatural confusion. Queensland pioneer grower, field botanist, and nurseryman George Trapnell introduced many cultivars selected from the wild often assisted by photographer and naturalist Keith Williams. The first cultivar submitted for PBR was Callistemon salignus ‘Great Balls of Fire’. The work of Wrigley and Fagg (1993) in preparing a description of callistem cultivars and attempting to sort out the associated nomenclatural confusion were assisted by the work and collections of Harry Infield, for many years the leader of the Callistemon Study Group of the SGAP and his callistemon arboretum at Demesne Park on the mid-north coast of New South Wales (he also raised many new selections) also by Brisbane nurseryman Ted Knight who ran a callistemon nursery in the school grounds of the Redlands Special School in Thornlands and was assisted by Brisbane grower Colin Cornford.
Most cultivars have been selected for the colour of their stamen filaments, essentially a range of whites, yellows and cream on the one hand and violets, pinks and reds on the other. Considering the subtle variations that can occur in these two colour groups, and that the filament colour can vary with age, it is not surprising that the RHS colour chart has been used to indicate colour using flowers that are mature but freshly “opened”.
Outstanding cultivars include ‘Harkness’, purchased in 1937 and used for cuttings in 1948 … C. citrinus ‘Splendens’ is listed by the ?New RHS Dictionary of Gardening as the “finest of the genus”. ‘King’s Park Special’. ‘Lilacinus’ is the earliest known cultivar of Callitemon, the seed collected near Como in NSW and raised in Berlin in 1913. (Wrigley & Fagg, 1993, p. 100). ‘Little John’ was awarded a Gold Medal by the Tree and Shrub growers Group of the NIAA in 1986.
Recent breeding has recently been based on the controlled pollination of ‘Captain Cook’(seed) and ‘Little John’ (pollen), crossed again, then selection and cuttings

Infield, Harry. 1990. ‘Callistemon the Bottlebrush Colour Parade.’ Australian Plants 16 (125): 3–9.
Payne, William H.. 1990. “Australia’s Bottlebrushes.” Australian Plants 16 (125): 19–22. (with list of cultivars)
Cornford, Colin1992. ‘More Callistemon Cultivars.’ Australian Plants 17 (134): 62. (list of names compiled by Callistemon Study Group)
Williams, Byron 2007. ‘Callistemon Magic.’ Australian Plants 24(190): 12–18.

Anon. 1966. ’Callistemon ‘Harkness’’. Australian Plants 3: 349.
Callistemon ‘Harkness’ AP 1978 10: 23.
Callistemon ‘Mauve Mist’ AP 1978 10: 23–24.
Callistemon ‘Reeve’s Pink’ AP 1978 10: 24.
Callistemon ‘Wollumbin’ AP 1978 10: 24-25.
Callistemon ‘Burgundy’ AP 1978 10: 25.

Callitris ‘Golden Zero’ AP 1977 9: 205.

Allocasuarina littoralis ‘Matuka Silver’ white variegation

Ceratopetalum ‘Festival’ was selected by Yellow Rock Nursery.

Ceratopetalum gummiferum ‘Christmas Snow’ AP 1977 9: 82.
Ceratopetalum gummiferum ‘White Christmas’ AP 1977 9: 205.

Over the period 1980-2000 Chamelaucium has become one of the biggest flower crops in the world in terms of both value and volume of production and in 1998 there were 31 cul;tivars registered with ACRA of which 17 were protected by PBR and and probably over 100 unregistered (Dawson, 1999 p. 110). This genus is the most widely explored Australian cultivar as it has proved a profitable item in the floristry industry, mostly by selection of seedlings of open pollinated plants and propagation by cuttings. Breeding and selection ahs been performed by the NSW Dept. Ag. & Fish and their NSW agent Vantree Pty Ltd; Australian Wax Farms of Westy Perth, WA; Greg Lamont NSW Ag & Horticulture Station, Gosford and Redlands Nursery. Some cultivars have been produced by hand pollination and embryo extraction and hybrids include: C. uncinatum x C. axillare, C. megalopetalum x C. uncinatum and even the intergeneric cross C. uncinatum x Verticordia plumosa.

Citrus australasica var. sanguinea was raised by Erika Birmingham, Byron bay Native Produce, Bangalow, NSW. (Erika Birmingham) by open pollination and seedling selection.

Payne, Bill 2001. ‘Correa cultivars’. Australian Plants 21(169): 190–193.
Hitchcock, Maria 2003. ‘Description of Species, Varieties and Cultivars.’ Australian Plants 22(174): 15–38.
Carmen, Paul 2003 ‘Grafting Correa’. Australian Plants 22(174): 39–42.

Gibson, Robert 2003. ‘Artificially Crossed Crinums’. Australian Plants 22(174): 105–106.

Cooper, Rene 1982. “Crowea ‘Festival’ a Hybrid of Crowea exalata x C. saligna.” Australian Plants 11 (92): 375.

Landscape plantings have been explored through seedling selection, vegetative division and micropropagation of Dianella revoluta.

Most variants are seedling selections e.g. Philotheca myoporoides ‘Lime Delight’. There are several double-flowerd variants of E. verrucosus (ellis,

Anon. 1963. “Eriostemon Garden Cultivars.” Australian Plants 2:71. (includes 4 Clearview selections)
Ellis, Peter N 1968. “Double Waxflowers”. Australian Plants 4(36): 4-6.

Flower colour and size e.g. red and pink forms of E. leucoxylon, E. sideroxylon, E. melliodora, E. largiflorens, C. ficifolia, C. calophylla. Large flowers E. caesia, E. leucoxylon f. macrocarpa
Eucalyptus ST Henry, Glasshouse Mts, Qld ‘Summer Beauty and ’’Summer Red’ produced by controlled pollination and selection with propagation by grafting. Hybridisation has been explored (Beardsell et al., 1978). The hybrid Corymbia ptychocarpa x C. ficifolia has produced ‘Summer Snow’ by controlled pollination and propagated by grafts. C. ficifolia colour variants by recurrent phenotypic selection, then by seed.
Corymbia ficifolia and C. calophylla have long been suspected of producing putative hybrids and there are many colour variants that have at times been given both botanical and cultivar names. With C. calophylla ‘Rosea’ supposedly originating from a selection made by Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, William Guilfoyle, in 1893 (see Spencer, 2002).

Eucalyptus caesia ‘Silver Princess’ Australian Plants 1977 9: 80.
Delaporte, Kate L. & Sedgley, Margaret Ornamental Eucalypts. Species for Cut bud and Flower Production. Australian Plants 20 (164): 354–358.
Purse, John 2005 ‘Eucalyptus pulverulenta ‘Baby blue’ – A Genetic Mystery.’ Australian Plants 23(185): 153–155.
Glocke, P. et al. 2006. ‘Eucalyptus erythronema X E. stricklandii.’ Australian Plants 23(188): 301–305.

Eucryphia lucida ‘Leatherwood Cream’ AP 1977 9: 82.

Native species are bred and selected for their agricultural use, mostly a fodder. Glycine latifolia as a forage plant CSIRO Div Trop Crops & Pastures, St Lucia, Qld.

A popular subject for selection because of the variety of growth habits, foliage forms and colours, and flower colours and forms; also because the genus can be propagated by cuttings and there is the potential for hybridization. A few cultivars have been raised by deliberate hybridization but most have arisen as chance seedlings. The early selection of grevilleas was mostly by Leo Hodge on the property ‘Poorinda’ in the 1950s and 60s (Tully, 1977) moving to Mount Lookout near Bairnsdale in 1971 but retaining the name ‘Poorinda’. He registered 39 Grevillea cultivars up to 1985 many of doubtful value but with exceptions. ‘Royal Mantle’ must be one of the most successful of all native cultivars.
G. alpina, with many geographic forms, is the source of many Poorinda and Austraflora cultivars.
G. aquifolia has many leaf forms and variants
G. ‘Audrey’ original plant still existed at the Nindethana Nursery site in 1985.
An account of the history of Grevillea cultivation and the personalities and nurseries involved, as well as background to the SGAP Grevillea Study Group, is given in Olde & Marriott (1994, pp.109–119).
Media personality Don Burke raised a number of Grevillea cultivars named as popular drinks including ‘Cherry Brandy’ (1980), ‘White Wine’ (1982), ‘Pink Champagne’.
George Lullfitz has crossed Grevillea filifolia x G. preissii and Austraflora has produced crosses of Grevillea juniperina. Peter Zoller of Redlands nursery has used controlled pollination techniques. There are also a range of tropical hybrids (Costin, R. & S., 1988).

Clark, Tony 1986. ‘Grevillea ‘Winpara Gem’ Grevillea olivacea, Grevillea thelemanniana. The Development of a Cultivar.’ Australian Plants 13 (106): 279–280.
Gordon, David N. 1974. ‘Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’’. Australian Plants 7: 303–305.
Verdon, D. 1974. ‘Grevillea juniperina ‘Molongolo’.’ Australian Plants 7: 302.
Costin, Russell & Costin, Sharon. 1988. ‘Tropical Grevillea Hybrids.’ Australian Plants 14 (116): 335–343.
Hodge, Merv 2002. ‘Popular Hybrids: Grevillea.’ Australian Plants 21(170): 235–243.
Hodge, Merv 2002. ‘Robyn Gordon Grevillea Complex.’ Australian Plants 21(173): 383–385.
Payne, Bill H. 2002. ‘Grevillea Cutivars’. Australian Plants 21(170): 272.
Doig, Ross 2007. ‘Hardenbergias for the Garden.’ Australian Plants 24(190): 37.


Seedling selections have been made by Austraflora and other nurseries including Hardenbergia ‘Bushy Blue’ released by R Weidner in California.

Wall, Rosemary 2007. ‘Hardenbergia ‘Allyn sugar Plum’.’ Australian Plants 24(190): 31.

Hockings, David 2008. “Hibiscus Cultivars”. Australian Plants 24: 351-2.

Only one cultivar, Kunzea ‘Badja Carpet’, is known from this genus: it is a selection from an undescribed wild species growing on Mt Badja in south-east New South Wales and listed botanically under the phrase name Kunzea sp. (Wadbilliga). Both names will be subsumed by the new species name when the plant is given a formal botanical description.

Work has been done on Lechenaultia by the Lullfitz Nursery. Lechenaultia controlled pollination breeding has been done at Kings Park between L. laricina x L. floribunda.

Lechenaultia ‘White Flush’ AP 1976 8: 328.

Although there are many Tea tree cultivars on the market most of these are derived from the New Zealand L. scoparium. Wrigley and Fagg (1993, p. 183) note that there is potential for breeding between a number of species in the genus although the genus is prone to attack by a number of pests and diseases. Most of the selections are for dwarf or prostrate habit, perhaps the most notable being L. polygalifolium ‘Pacific Beauty’, but there are also a few selections which have bronze leaves or unusual flower colour. Of the few Australian cultivars these occur in L. brevipes, L. continentale, L. flavescens, L. laevigatum. Peter Ollerenshaw of Bywong Nsy, Bungendore, NSW has used controlled pollination for cultivar crosses. Austraflora has produced seedling selections of L. liversidgei and L. laevigatum.

This genus has proved very popular for landscaping through the late 90.s and 2010. Most cultivars vave been produced by the open pollination and seedling selection of Lomandra longifolia.

Lophostemon ‘Billy Bunter’ Western Flora Nursery

First cultivated commercially in Honolulu, Hawaii after the first introduction of trees in 1882. In Australia the industry really began in the 1970s with plantations in Queensland. Hawaian selections and hybrids between M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla are grown in Australia as well as Australian Queensland selections which include ‘Hinde’ and ‘Own Choice’. Also a ‘Hidden valley’ series protected by PBR taken out by Hidden Valley Plantations, Beerwah, Qld.
Cultivars are recorded by the Australian Macadamia Society, Department of Agriculture and the PBR Office.

For such a large genus, and one so closely related to the cultivar-prolific Callistemon, there are remarkably few cultivars. M. bracteata cultivars have red and gold foliage and variable habits; M. fulgens various subspecies of M. fulgens form natural hybrids with M. radula. Several of these purple flowered offspring have been given cultivar names; M. incana has a number of different cultivars with grey or yellow foliage and variable compact or weeping habits; M. linariifolia has a dwarf form and M. thymifolia has white and pink flowered cultivars and forms with compact habits.

Melaleuca bracteata ‘Golden Gem’ AP 1976 8: 328.

Cook, Graham & Esther 1998. Riceflower Ozothamnus diosmifolius, an Everlasting Daisy as Commercial Cutflowers. Australian Plants 19 (155): 304–313.

George Lullfitz of Lullfitz Nursery, Wanneroo, WA has selected Pimelea ‘Bonne Petite’.

Prostanthera cuneata ‘Alpine Gold’ 1977 AP 9: 82.

Cultivars few e.g. P. obovatus ‘Cobtus’ is a PBR application accepted in 2000 produced by seedling selection and propagated by cuttings.

These are grown mostly as habit or flower colour selections from the wild or seedling selections.

Pultenaea pedunculata ‘Pyalong Gold’ AP 1989 15 (119): 15.
Pultenaea pedunculata ‘Pyalong Pink’ AP 1989 15 (119): 15.
Pultenaea villosa ‘Wallum Gold’ AP 1989 15 (119): 15.

Beng Tan 2001. ‘Pink Everlasting Daisy’. Australian Plants 21(167): 110–114.

Variants of S. aemula have ben produced by controlled pollination.

From the 1980s the enormous ornamental foliage potential of “Lilly Pilly” cultivars (cultivars of Acmena smithii, Syzygium australe, Syzygium luehmannii and Syzygium paniculatum) was explored (Logan, 1999). The brother and sister Costin team has worked on Syzygium luehmannii and S. paniculatum dwarf forms and compact forms of S. australe over the period 1997-2000 using open pollination & selection: also controlled breeding S. wilsonii x S. luehmannii and the use of S. francisii. Syzygium ‘Undercover’ Also mainly from Western Flora Nursery, Coorow, WA trading through Multiplant Pty Ltd using controlled pollination, selection and propagation by tissue culture.

Logan, Richard 1999. “Lilly Pilly Cultivars”. Australian Plants 20 (159): 106–107.

The stunning form of Telopea flowers attracted early breeding trials an in 1962 it was researched by botanist and arborist Dr Robert Boden (Robert William Boden, 1935–2009, Director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens 1979–1989). Further development by Richard Powell led to the cultivar T. ‘Braidwood Brilliant’ registered in 1975. T. speciosissima ‘Wirrimbirra White’ was the first cultivar in the genus, a white flowered variant named after the Environmental Centre near Bargo, New South Wales, and managed by Thistle Y. Stead (formerly Thistle Yolette Harris (1902–1990)) an early author of a “new breed” of writers promoting the growth of native plants, notably Wildflowers of Australia (1938) and Australian Plants for the Garden (1953) (Webb, 1998). Other work has been done by the Agronomy Unit of the University of Sydney with open pollinated seedling selection for ’Sunburst’ and ‘Sunflare’ and the work of Cathy Offord, P Nixon & PB Goodwin.

Boden, Robert W. & Powell, R.H. 1973. A Waratah Hybrid. (T. x) Australian Plants 7: 168–170.
Nixon, Paul & Payne, William H. 1986. “Waratahs, the New Breed to the Year 2000.” Australian Plants 18 (147): 303–311.
Yellow Rock Nursery 1986. “How To Grow New Generation Waratahs” Australian Plants 18 (147): 323.

Tristania conferta ‘Variegata’ AP 1977 9: 80.
Tristania conferta ‘Perth Gold’ AP 1977 9: 80.

Xanthostemon chrysanthus ‘Expo Gold’ was used to launch World Expo 1988.

Sankowsky, G. & Payne, W. H. 1988.”’Expo Gold’ Xanthostemon chrysanthus.” Australian Plants 15 (117): 10.

ACRA role

The Australian Cultivar Registration Authority is concerned that its activities and goals are relevant to contemporary needs. The organization is clear about its benefits and ensure that these benefits are communicated to its stakeholders and valued by the general community.

There are several ways in which ACRA gives practical assistance to native plant growers of the future:

• By continuing to provide an accurate listing of names that have been used for Australian native plants, whether or not the names are synonyms or apply to plants that are no longer in existence. This would include information origins, originator, dates of origination and commercial introduction as well as diagnostic features, a herbarium specimen and coloured image(s)

• By publishing this data as a formal register/check-list in a form that complies with recommendations of the International Commission on the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants

• By encouraging the recording of native plant cultivars that are currently in cultivation By providing identification aids to extant cultivars. So, with sufficient funds it might be possible to establish cultivar Groups for those genera like Grevillea and Callistemon which contain numerous cultivars. Dichotomous “keys” could be developed to distinguish the different cultivars within the cultivar Groups. Keys and information could be regularly updated by enthusiasts in the plant Groups, supervised by ACRA, and these keys could make allowance for new introductions and loss of plants from cultivation.

ACRA Timeline

Adapted from notes of ACRA Secretary Paul Carmen, National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.

1950s (Late)– Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP) was formed. Correspondence was initiated by the publication branch (Maurie Wilson) of the newly formed SGAP with the Royal Horticultural Society in England, between 1959 and 1962.
1962 (Feb.) – South East Region of SGAP accepted an offer from the ‘International Commission for the Nomenclature of Cultivated Plants (ICNCP) to undertake the registrations of cultivars of genera endemic to Australia, and to act as the national registration authority, in conjunction with the National Herbarium of Victoria (in Melbourne)’. A committee was then established (on a voluntary basis) with Maurie Wilson and Ernest Lord (editor of Your Garden) representing SGAP and Jim Willis and Arthur Court representing the Herbarium. Jim Willis was appointed as Chairman and the name ‘Australian Cultivar Registration Authority’ (ACRA) was created.
1962 – May 8 first meeting. ACRA sends letters to nurseries and members of the nursery industry and horticultural societies throughout Australia asking for lists of names of known cultivars.
1966 – The first list of cultivars was published. Albert Hargrave (S.G.A.P. Victorian Branch) joined the Committee to replace Maurie Wilson.
1970 – John Wrigley, Curator of the Canberra Botanic Gardens began discusses possibility of ACRA being moved to Canberra.
1971 – John Wrigley was elected to ACRA and became its first Secretary and Bill Payne was also elected. Meeting recommended an expansion of the committtee to make it more nationally representative and that the headquarters of ACRA be moved to the Canberra Botanic Gardens.
1973 – ACRA was officially moved to the Canberra Botanical Gardens. The first constitution was developed. A list of 128 cultivars which the late Ernest Lord had compiled were presented for publication in the Australian Plants Journal.
1974 – ACRA expanded to eleven members with representatives from all botanic gardens, SGAP and the nursery industry. The new committee set about defining rules for registration of cultivars including the need for a herbarium specimen and two photographs and what fees might be charged. A grant $100 was received from SGAP and a bank account was established. It was also decided that the Australian Plants Journal would be its official publication. The first cultivars were officially registered: Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’, Grevillea ‘Molonglo’ and Telopea ‘Braidwood Brilliant’.
1975 – ACRA was invited to provide an honorary member of the Plant Breeders Rights Committee and John Wrigley was nominated. David Young travelled to Melbourne and Gippsland to visit Leo Hodge and Bill Caine regarding the ‘Poorinda’ cultivars. Trade Marks were discussed as nurseries were beginning to develop labels and using trade marks as a means of protecting their cultivars.
1978 – David Young was appointed as the first ACRA Registrar.
Number of registered cultivars by the end of 1979 = 85.

1980 – Geoff Butler was appointed ACRA Registrar.
1981 – A new application form developed with a fee of $10 for cultivar registration. SGAP continued its support with a grant $200.
1984 – ACRA put up a proposal to register Acacia cultivars
1986 – The first ACRA cultivar descriptions were published in the Australian Horticulture (formerly Australian Nurseryman) magazine. Planning began for the book on Australian cultivars.
1987 – ACRA puts on a small display at the Sydney Wildflower Spectacular.
Proclamation of the Plant Variety Rights (PVR) legislation into law.
1988 – Registration form revised and the fee increased to $20. Jim Willis retired from ACRA . ACRA Committee invited take on the role of commenting on all new applications PVR. The Book Garden Varieties of Australian Plants was published.
Cultivar registrations to the end of 1989 = 233
1990 – Neil Marriott elected ASGAP representative, and Roger Spencer Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Two tier registration fee proposed with $20 for basic and $50 for a more detailed description. It was decided that commercial names would no longer be accepted as part of the cultivar name.
1991– Trevor Christensen elected Adelaide Botanic Gardens representative. ACRA cultivar registration fees waived for ASGAP branches, regions and Study Groups on the proviso that a full description be provided with each nomination
1994 – Development of the new ACRA database
1996 – Registration fee of $50 for all cultivar registrations. ACRA receives grant from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to colour code naturally occurring forms of Australian plants.
1998 – ACRA to be paid $50 for each PBR application to cover cost of processing herbarium specimens.
1999 – PBR Office sends representative (Helen Costa) to ACRA AGM.
Cultivar registrations to the end of 1999 = 337
2000 ->Web-page descriptions and ACRA website developed
2007 – Review carried out to assess future directions for ACRA. Plans begin for the Checklist of Australian Cultivars Project – funding support sought fron ANPS groups
2009 – Checklist of Australian Cultivars Project begins funding of $50,000 (ANPS – $19,332, ACRA $10,000, Horticulture Australia Ltd $21,000), Emma Clifton employed as Australian Plant Name Index (APNI) editor and works for 12 months part time.
2010 – Further funding sought to complete Checklist Project. Work on new electronic application form begins. Total ACRA cultivar registrations to the end of 2011 = 397
2012 – Electronic application form completed. Celebrations for 50th anniversary

First published on the internet – 1 March 2019
. . . 1 March 2021 – revision
. . . 27 September 2022 – added reference


Banksia spinulosa Sm., and its varieties and hybrids, are the source of many popular cultivars

Banksia spinulosa
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