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Kunzea is a genus of plants in the family Myrtaceae and is endemic to Australasia. They are shrubs, sometimes small trees and usually have small, crowded, rather aromatic leaves. The flowers are similar to those of plants in the genus Leptospermum but differ in having stamens that are longer than the petals. Most kunzeas are endemic to Western Australia but a few occur in eastern Australia and a few are found in New Zealand. The taxonomy of the genus is not settled and is complicated by the existence of a number of hybrids.

Kunzea obovata 02.jpg
Kunzea obovata growing near Tenterfield
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Subfamily: Myrtoideae
Tribe: Leptospermeae
Genus: Kunzea
  • Tillospermum Salisb.
  • Pentagonaster Klotzsch
  • Salisia Lindl.
  • Stenospermum Sweet ex Heynh.
  • Angasomyrtus Trudgen & Keighery


Plants in the genus Kunzea are shrubs or small trees, usually with their leaves arranged alternately along the branches. The flowers are arranged in clusters near the ends of the branches, which in some species, continue to grow after flowering. The flowers of most species lack a stalk but those that have one are usually solitary or in groups of two or three. In some species, the flowers are surrounded by enlarged bracts. There are five petals, five sepals and a large number of stamens which are always longer than the petals. The fruit is a usually a woody capsule.[3] Kunzeas are similar to species in other genera of the Myrtaceae, especially Leptospermum but are distinguished from that genus by having stamens that are longer than the petals.[4]

Kunzea phylicoides foliage and fruit

Taxonomy and namingEdit

The first formal description of a kunzea was published in 1828 by Ludwig Reichenbach in his book Conspectus Regni Vegetabilis. Reichenbach referred to three species - K. capitata, K. ericifolia and K. corifolia (now K. ambigua but did not nominate a type species.[1][5] In 1981, Hellmut Toelken nominated K. capitata as the type species.[6] Reichenbach named the genus after his "distinguished friend", the German naturalist Gustav Kunze, professor of botany in Leipzig.[5][7] The taxonomy of the genus is not settled and hybrids often occur where two species occur in the same area.[3]


The majority of Kunzea species are endemic to the south-west of Western Australia but there are species in every Australian state and in New Zealand.[2]

Use in horticultureEdit

Some species of Kunzea are suitable for use in gardens. Kunzea ambigua is described as a "handsome shrub which attracts numerous birds and colourful soldier beetles when in flower". A form of this species from southern Victoria reputedly flowers profusely with sprays of scented flowers.[4] Kunzea capitata and K. pulchella are red-flowering species from Western Australia and are described as "indeed outstanding" although they are sometimes difficult to establish in eastern states and need to be grafted onto hardier rootstock.[8]


Sourced from the authoritative Australian Plant Name Index and Australian Plant Census as of January 2017 and the Kew Gardens World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.[1][2]



  1. ^ a b c d "Kunzea Rchb". APNI. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Kunzea Rchb". Royal Botanic Gardens kew. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Wilson, Peter G. "Genus Kunzea". Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney: plantnet. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Kunzea ambigua Tick Bush". Australian National Botanic Gardens. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  5. ^ a b Reichenbach, Ludwig (1828). Conspectus Regni Vegetabilis. Leipzig. p. 175. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  6. ^ Toelken, Hellmu R. (1996). "A Revision of the Genus Kunzea (Myrtaceae) I. The Western Australian Section Zeanuk". Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Garden. 17: 28.
  7. ^ Elliot, Rodger W.; Jones, David L.; Blake, Trevor (1993). Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation: Volume 6 (K-M). Port Melbourne: Lothian Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-85091-589-1.
  8. ^ McCarthy, Norm. "The genus Kunzea". Australian Society for Growing Australian Plants. Retrieved 23 November 2016.