Xeronema is a genus in its own family of Xeronemataceae, in the order Asparagales, containing two species endemic to a few islands in the north of New Zealand and in New Caledonia. The leaves form flattened fans arising from thick rhizomes. The inflorescences are red and bristly, reminiscent of the bottlebrush flowers of Callistemon.

Xeronema callistemon endemic to Poor Knights Island and Hen (Taranga) Islands in northern New Zealand grows on rhyolite sea cliffs and rock outcrops and occasionally on rubble in forests or as epiphytes on Metrosideros excelsa. They form huge colonies 1-4 m across. The flowers are red in dense racemes on scapes that are up to 1 m long. Flowers appear in spring. They are not threatened, but because they are endemic to two very small islands they are listed as such. There are two recognized subspecies: X. callistemon var. callistemon and X. callistemon var. bracteosa

According to the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, Xeronema is best grown in a long narrow pot in a free draining mix of rock chips and compost. They should be watered frequently and fertilized frequently with sea weed, manure, or a high phosphate/nitrogen garden fertilizer. The Network says they're very cold sensitive dying even in mild frosts, but Lee Poulsen haven't had any such problem with his where they've withstood temperatures down to 0 °C or lower (-1° or -2 °C) with no signs of damage or harm whatsoever growing outdoors all year round without any protection here in Southern California. The one thing they can't withstand is overheated roots; this will kill them very quickly. The plants should be allowed to become root-bound or they won't flower, and need good sunlight. However, good sunlight in New Zealand is not quite the same as other places. In the San Francisco Bay Area, plants grown in full sun are extremely stressed and need to be grown in partial sun or part shade.

The photos below were taken by Nhu Nguyen.

Xeronema callistemon, Nhu NguyenXeronema callistemon, Nhu NguyenXeronema callistemon, Nhu NguyenXeronema callistemon, Nhu NguyenXeronema callistemon, Nhu Nguyen

Xeronema moorei endemic to New Caledonia grows among thickets in rocky areas at high elevations with a very alkaline substrate. The fruits are in clusters. It differs from X. callistemon in some floral and capsule details and by the seed size and shape.

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Page last modified on July 17, 2013, at 07:13 AM