Chamelaucium floriferum

Distribution Map
Family: Myrtaceae
Distribution: Sandy soils, rock outcrops and coastal dunes in south Western Australia.
Common Name: Walpole wax
Derivation of Name: Chamelaucium....Derivation uncertain; possibly from Greek, chamai, dwarf and leucos, white it has also been suggested that the name derives from the Latin term applied to the headgear of medieval Popes.
floriferum.... From Latin flos, a flower and the suffix - ferum, bearing, referring to the massed floral display.
Conservation Status: Not currently listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. However, both subspecies are listed under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act as Priority species.

General Description:

Chamelaucium is a genus of about 30 species all occurring only in south western Australia. They are generally small to medium shrubs with narrow leaves and 'tea-tree' like flowers.

Chamelaucium floriferum
Chamelaucium floriferum
Photo: Brian Walters

Chamelaucium floriferum is usually a small to medium shrub, typically 1.5 - 3 metres high with linear, narrow leaves up to 40 mm long and highly aromatic when crushed. The small, pink/white flowers occur profusely in late winter and spring. They are circular in shape and about 10 mm in diameter. There are two subspecies: subsp. floriferum and subsp. diffusum.

Although native to a dry summer climate, Walpole wax has been cultivated successfully in more humid, temperate and sub-tropical areas but cannot be said to be easy to maintain for long periods in those areas. The species is undoubtedly more adaptable to areas of dry summers. It requires a very well drained position, preferably in sandy soil in sun or semi shade. Once established, plants will tolerate periods of extended dryness. If needed, the plants respond well to pruning back by about one third annually.

Propagation from seed is difficult but cuttings of firm, current seasons growth usually strike readily. Some experiments have been carried out into grafting Chamelaucium species onto Kunzea flavescens, Kunzea ambigua and Leptospermum petersoni. This work shows promise.

A Name Change

The name 'floriferum' is apparently no longer valid. The Australian Plant Census now lists the two subspecies as:

  • Chamelaucium floriferum subsp. floriferum > Chamelaucium sp. Walpole
  • Chamelaucium floriferum subsp. diffusum > Chamelaucium sp. Nornalup
In the absence of formally described names, we are leaving this description as is for the present together with this explanatory note.

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