Chamelaucium, also known as waxflower, is a genus of shrubs endemic to south western Western Australia. They belong to the myrtle family Myrtaceae and have flowers similar to those of the tea-trees (Leptospermum). The most well-known species is the Geraldton wax, Chamelaucium uncinatum, which is cultivated widely for its large attractive flowers.

Chamelaucium uncinatum2.jpg
Chamelaucium uncinatum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Subfamily: Myrtoideae
Tribe: Chamelaucieae
Genus: Chamelaucium
Type species
Chamelaucium ciliatum
About 30 species.


Plants of the genus Chamelaucium are woody evergreen shrubs ranging from 15 cm (6 in) to 3 m (10 ft) high. The leaves are tiny to medium-sized and arranged oppositely on the stems. They contain oil glands and are aromatic,[1] often giving off a pleasant aroma when crushed. The flowers are small and have five petals, ten stamens, and are followed by small hardened fruit.[2]


The genus was first defined by French botanist René Louiche Desfontaines in 1819.[3] The derivation of the name is unclear. They are commonly known as waxplants,[1] or wax flowers from the waxy feel of the petals.[2] Fourteen species are currently recognised within the genus. It gives its name to a number of closely related genera, collectively known as the Chamelaucium alliance within the family Myrtaceae; larger members include Verticordia, Calytrix, Darwinia, Micromyrtus, Thryptomene and Baeckea.[4]


Species include:[5]

Distribution and habitatEdit

Restricted to the southwest of Western Australia, Chamelaucium species grow most commonly in heathland communities growing on sand near the coast or inland, and in granite outcrops. Some grow in more semi arid climates.[2]


In cultivation, they do well in dryer climates with good drainage and sunny aspect. They are hardy to frost and drought, although sensitive to Phytophthora cinnamomi.[2] The best known and most widely cultivated member of the genus by far is C. uncinatum, which is widely grown in gardens across Southern Australia, and for the cut flower industry in the USA and Israel.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Chamelaucium". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
  2. ^ a b c d Elliot RW, Jones DL, Blake T (1984). Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation:Volume 3 - Ce-Er. Port Melbourne: Lothian Press. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-85091-167-2.
  3. ^ "Chamelaucium Desf". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
  4. ^ "Chamelaucium and its Relatives - Background". Australian Native Plants Society (Australia). Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Chamelaucium". The Plant List. 19 November 2012.
  6. ^ Stewart, Angus (2001). Gardening on the Wild Side. Sydney: ABC Books. p. 145. ISBN 0-7333-0791-4.
  • "Chamelaucium uncinatum". Australian Native Plants Society (Australia). Archived from the original on 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  • Wilson, Peter G., O'Brien, Marcelle M., Gadek, Paul A., and Quinn, Christopher J. 2001. "Myrtaceae Revisited: A Reassessment of Infrafamilial Groups". American Journal of Botany 88 (11): 2013–2025. Available online (pdf file).