Isopogon anethifolius

Isopogon anethifolius
Narrow Leaf Drumstick - Isopogon anethifolius (7970118766).jpg
Flowers emerging from base of cone
Scientific classification
I. anethifolius
Binomial name
Isopogon anethifolius
Range in New South Wales (in green)

Protea anethifolia Salisb.
Protea acufera Cav.
Isopogon virgulatus Gand.
Isopogon globosus Gand.
Isopogon confertus Gand.
Isopogon eriophorus Gand.
Atylus anethifolius (Salisb.) Kuntze

Isopogon anethifolius, commonly known as narrow-leaved drumsticks, is a shrub in the family Proteaceae that is found only in New South Wales, in coastal areas near Sydney and to the immediate west. It occurs naturally in woodland, open forest and heathland on sandstone soils. An upright shrub, it can reach to 3 m (10 ft) in height, with terete leaves that are divided and narrow. The yellow flowers appear from September to December and are prominently displayed. They are followed by round grey cones, which give the plant its common name of drumsticks. The small hairy seeds are found in the old flower parts.

Isopogon anethifolius regenerates after bushfire by resprouting from its woody base, known as a lignotuber, as well as from seed. It was described by Richard Salisbury in 1796, and was first grown in the United Kingdom the same year. One of the easiest members of the genus Isopogon to grow in cultivation, I. anethifolius grows readily in the garden if located in a sunny or part-shaded spot with sandy soil and good drainage.


Photograph of a bush with thin green leaves in shade
Habit (Botany Bay National Park

Isopogon anethifolius is a shrub usually between 1 and 3 m (3 and 10 ft) high with an upright habit (tall and thin with mostly vertical stems).[2] It generally grows taller in more sheltered areas such as woodlands, and shorter in more exposed areas.[3] The stems are reddish in colour, and new growth in winter is tinged with reddish and tan tones.[4] The leaves are terete (round in cross section) and less than 1 mm (​125 in) in diameter. They branch once or twice in their 16 cm (6 14 in) length. The globular yellow flowerheads, known as inflorescences, appear at the ends of branches in spring and early summer (September to December),[5][6] though occasionally at other times of year.[3] These are up to 4 cm (1 12 in) in diameter.[7] The individual flowers arise out of the central woody globe in a spiral pattern,[3] and are around 1.2 cm (12 in) long.[4] They are straight stalkless structures that arise out of a scale on the globe, composed of a perianth tube that splits into four perianth segments, revealing a thin delicate style that is tipped with the stigma. At the ends of the four perianth segments are the anthers.[8] Arranged in a spiral pattern, the flowers open from the outer/bottom of the flowerhead inwards.[4] The round or egg-shaped grey cones are revealed as the old flower parts fall away,[9] and are up to 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. The seed-bearing nuts are small—up to 4 mm (316 in) across—and lined with hairs.[10] The seed weighs around 4 mg (0.00014 oz).[6]

The terete leaves readily distinguish Isopogon anethifolius from other members of the genus,[4] which have flat leaves and are greater than 1 mm (​125 in) across.[11] On a microscopic level, the supporting ground tissue of I. anethifolius differs from some of its genus by its irregular misshapen sclereids and contorted cell body.[12]


Photograph of a grey cone located at the division of two red branches
Cone persisting after the flowers have died

Isopogon anethifolius was among the swag of plants collected by English botanist Joseph Banks and Swedish naturalist Daniel Solander on 5 May 1770 at Botany Bay during the first voyage of Captain James Cook.[13] A drawing by Scottish artist Sydney Parkinson was the source for a subsequent painting by James Britten, published in 1905.[13][14]

English botanist Richard Salisbury described this species in 1796 as Protea anethifolia,[15] from a specimen collected in Port Jackson (Sydney).[16] The species name is derived from the Latin words anethum "dill" and folium "leaf", from the resemblance of its leaves to those of the herb.[5] In 1799, the Spanish botanist Antonio José Cavanilles described Protea acufera,[17] later identified as a synonym by Salisbury and Robert Brown.[18][19]

It gained its current name in 1809 when it was redescribed as the dill-leaved isopogon (Isopogon anethifolius) by English plantsman Joseph Knight in his controversial work On the cultivation of the plants belonging to the natural order of Proteeae.[1][18] Robert Brown had written of the genus Isopogon but Knight had hurried out his work before Brown's. Brown's description appeared in his paper On the natural order of plants called Proteaceae in the Transactions of the Linnean Society in 1810.[9]

French botanist Michel Gandoger described four taxa in 1919 as similar to I. anethifolius. I. confertus was a plant from Rylstone on the Central Tablelands, which he distinguished by its crowded leaves that were 7–8 cm (2 343 14 in) long, while I. eriophorus was a plant with more scattered leaves that were 12–14 cm (4 345 12 in) long. He described I. globosus from the Port Jackson district on the basis of round (rather than oval) infructescences (cones), and I. virgatulus from Western Australia.[20] All four were subsequently synonymised with I. anethifolius.[1] Gandoger described 212 taxa of Australian plants, almost all of which turned out to be species already described.[21]

German botanist Otto Kuntze 1891 publication Revisio generum plantarum was his response to what he perceived as a lack of method in existing nomenclatural practice.[22] Because Isopogon was based on Isopogon anemonifolius,[18] and that species had already been placed by Salisbury in the segregate genus Atylus in 1807,[23] Kuntze revived the latter genus on the grounds of priority, and made the new combination Atylus anethifolius.[24] However, Kuntze's revisionary program was not accepted by the majority of botanists.[22] Ultimately, the genus Isopogon was nomenclaturally conserved over Atylus by the International Botanical Congress of 1905.[25]

As for all species in the Isopogon genus, I. anethifolius has 13 haploid chromosomes.[26]

Distribution and habitat

Closeup of foliage and new growth, Botany Bay National Park
In cultivation at Maranoa Gardens in Balwyn

Isopogon anethifolius occurs in the Sydney Basin and surrounds, from Braidwood northwards to Mount Coricudgy in Wollemi National Park.[2] The annual rainfall in these areas ranges from 900 to 1600 mm (35–60 in). The species occurs naturally from sea level to 1200 m (4000 ft) altitude and is found on sandstone in heathland and dry sclerophyll woodland.[6] Typical trees it is associated with include the scribbly gums Eucalyptus haemastoma and E. sclerophylla and silvertop ash (E. sieberi), open forest plants such as soft geebung (Persoonia mollis), and heathland plants such as heath banksia (Banksia ericifolia) dwarf she-oak (Allocasuarina nana) and Wingello grevillea (Grevillea molyneuxii).[6]


Isopogon anethifolius resprouts from its woody base, known as a lignotuber, after bushfire. It is also serotinous—the seeds are held on the plant as a canopy-based seedbank and are released after fire. These then fall directly to the ground or are blown a short distance by wind.[6] Plants resprouting from the lignotuber can flower in around two and a half years, while seedlings take around three and a half years.[27]

Leaf spotting is caused by the fungus Vizella. Flower buds may be damaged by weevils.[6]


Isopogon anethifolius was first cultivated in the United Kingdom in 1796.[7] Along with Isopogon dawsonii, it is the easiest member of the genus to breed.[4] The fine foliage, red stems, bright yellow flowers in spring and distinctive drumsticks afterwards make I. anethifolius an appealing garden plant. It has potential as a screening plant (its dense foliage can be used to block view for privacy).[28] It prefers acidic soil with extra water, though it does not tolerate waterlogging. A part-shaded position is the preferred location, but one in full sun is tolerated.[7] Plants tolerate frosts to −8 °C (20 °F).[29] Fertiliser applied in spring assists growth.[28] Young plants can grow long stems that eventually droop, and respond well to pruning.[7] Seeds germinate after 30 to 60 days.[7] Flowering can take several years from seed.[4] The species can be propagated by cutting.[7] Western Australian Isopogon species including I. cuneatus and I. latifolius have been grafted onto rootstocks of this species.[29] The flowers, cones and foliage are used in the cut-flower industry.[30]


  1. ^ a b c "Isopogon anethifolius (Salisb.) Knight". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  2. ^ a b Harden, Gwen. "New South Wales Flora Online: Isopogon anethifolius". Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Friends of Lane Cove National Park Inc. "Isopogon anethifolius". What's Flowering in the Park. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Fairley, Alan; Moore, Philip (1985). "Isopogon and Petrophile of New South Wales". Australian Plants. 13 (104): 147–54.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b Wrigley 1991, p. 428.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Benson, Doug; McDougall, Lyn (2000). "Ecology of Sydney plant species: Part 7b Dicotyledon families Proteaceae to Rubiaceae" (PDF). Cunninghamia. 6 (4): 1017–1202 [1090].CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b c d e f Elliot, Rodger W.; Jones, David L.; Blake, Trevor (1990). Encyclopaedia of Australian Plants Suitable for Cultivation: Vol. 5. Port Melbourne: Lothian Press. pp. 440–41. ISBN 0-85091-285-7.
  8. ^ Wrigley 1991, pp. 425–26.
  9. ^ a b Wrigley 1991, p. 426.
  10. ^ "Isopogon anethifolius (Salisb.) Knight". Flora of Australia Online. Department of the Environment and Heritage, Australian Government.
  11. ^ Harden, Gwen J. "Isopogon". New South Wales Flora Online. New South Wales Herbarium. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  12. ^ Rao, T. A.; Das, S. (February 1981). "Typology and taxonomic value of foliar sclereids in the Proteaceae 1.Isopogon R. Br". Proceedings: Plant Sciences. 90 (1): 31–43. doi:10.1007/BF03052895. ISSN 0370-0097.
  13. ^ a b Stearn, William T. (1969). "A Royal Society Appointment with Venus in 1769: The Voyage of Cook and Banks in the 'Endeavour' in 1768-1771 and Its Botanical Results". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. 24 (1): 64–90. JSTOR 530741.
  14. ^ Britten, James (1905). Illustrations of Australian plants collected in 1770 during Captain Cook's voyage round the world in H.M.S. Endeavour /by the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, with determinations by James Britten. 3. London, United Kingdom: Trustees of the British Museum. p. 253.
  15. ^ "Protea anethifolia Salisb". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  16. ^ Salisbury, Richard Anthony (1796). Prodromus stirpium in horto ad Chapel Allerton vigentium (in Latin). London, United Kingdom: Self-. p. 48.
  17. ^ Cavanilles, Antonio José (1799). Anales de historia natural. 1. Madrid, Spain: Imprenta Real por P. J. Pereyra. pp. 236–37.
  18. ^ a b c Knight, Joseph (1809). On the Cultivation of the Plants Belonging to the Natural Order of Proteeae. London, United Kingdom: W. Savage. p. 94.
  19. ^ Brown, Robert (1810). "On the Proteaceae of Jussieu". Transactions of the Linnean Society of London. 10 (1): 15–226 [71–72]. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.1810.tb00013.x.
  20. ^ Gandoger, Michel (1919). "Sertum plantarum novarum. Pars secunda". Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France. 66 (4): 216–33. doi:10.1080/00378941.1919.10836101.
  21. ^ McGillivray, Donald J. (1973). "Michel Gandoger's Names of Australian Plants". Contributions from the New South Wales National Herbarium. 4 (6): 319–65. ISSN 0077-8753.
  22. ^ a b Erickson, Robert F. "Kuntze, Otto (1843–1907)". Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  23. ^ Hooker, William (1805). The Paradisus Londinensis. 1. London, United Kingdom: D. N. Shury.
  24. ^ Kuntze, Otto (1891). Revisio generum plantarum:vascularium omnium atque cellularium multarum secundum leges nomenclaturae internationales cum enumeratione plantarum exoticarum in itinere mundi collectarum. Leipzig, Germany: A. Felix. p. 578.
  25. ^ "Congrès international de Botanique de Vienne". Bulletin de la Société botanique de France. 52: LII. 1905.
  26. ^ Ramsay, H. P. (1963). "Chromosome numbers in the Proteaceae". Australian Journal of Botany. 11 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1071/BT9630001.
  27. ^ Kubiak, P. (2009). "Fire responses of bushland plants after the January 1994 wildfires in northern Sydney" (PDF). Cunninghamia. 11 (1): 131–65.
  28. ^ a b ANBG staff (10 November 2015) [1978]. "Isopogon anethifolius drumsticks". Growing Native Plants. (online version at Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian Government. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  29. ^ a b Bate, Catriona; Tricket, Phil (September 2015). "Plant profile – Isopogon anethifolius(Salisb.) Knight" (PDF). Isopogon and Petrophile Study Group (17): 9–12. ISSN 1445-9493.
  30. ^ New South Wales Primary Industries. "Potential or very new flower crops". New South Wales Government. Retrieved 22 December 2015.

Cited text

  • Wrigley, John; Fagg, Murray (1991). Banksias, Waratahs and Grevilleas. Sydney, New South Wales: Angus & Robertson. ISBN 0-207-17277-3.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)