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Grevillea R.Br. ex Knight 1809 x ‘Superb’
pronounced: grev-ILL-ee-un hybrid soo-PERB
(Proteaceae – the waratah family)
common name: ‘Superb’ Grevillea
This lovely Grevillea is a member of the ‘Robyn Gordon’ group of hybrids. ‘Robyn Gordon’ is a chance hybrid that arose in the garden of the late David Gordon of Myall Park, Glenmorgan, Queensland. David was a plant collector with an extensive collection of Grevillea species which (according to legend) he planted in alphabetical order by species. So the Queensland Grevillea banksii was planted close by the Western Australian Grevillea bipinnatifida. A plant that was later to become the cultivar ‘Robyn Gordon’ (named after his daughter) arose by chance between these two parent species.
Once released into wider cultivation, Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ quickly established itself as one of the most popular of all Australian plant cultivars, due to its attractive foliage and spectacular deep red flowers. Its year-round flowering habit in many parts of Australia has added to its popularity, which continues today, despite the appearance in cultivation of several other cultivars which have a similar parentage.
One of these is the ‘Superb’, a cross between the same two species, but the white form of Grevillea banksii was used instead of the more common red form used in ‘Robyn Gordon’, giving this flower its lovely salmon-pink colour. It also differs from most other similar hybrids in that it was a deliberate cross rather than a chance seedling. The cross was carried out by the well-known Australian plant enthusiast and Grevillea grower, Merv Hodge.
The racemes that form the inflorescence consist of a series of individual flowers along an elongated stem. These flowers open in succession, which means that you get a really long flowering time from each inflorescence.
This is not all that ‘Superb’ has to offer: like ‘Robyn Gordon’, it flowers for much of the year, produces nectar and attracts both birds and bees. It’s a great plant for its flowers alone, but it also has very attractive foliage that is beautifully divided and has a lovely textural quality. The plant grows to a height of between 1½ and 2 m.
Other members of this group of hybrids include:
• ‘Ned Kelly’, a shrub which can reach 2 m in height by 3 m wide, with large orange-red racemes. It originated at the Kentlyn NSW Australian Plant Nursery in the 1970s.;
• ‘Coconut Ice’, up to 2 m high by 2 m wide, with large pink and red racemes. This is another of Merv Hodge’s cultivars, and also used the white-flowered form of Grevillea banksii;
• ‘Peaches and Cream’, to 1.5 m high and wide. The inflorescences open yellow and develop shades of pink and orange. It, too, had the white-flowered Grevillea banksii as one parent, and arose as a seedling in a Brisbane garden; and
• ‘Molly’, similar in size to ‘Peaches and Cream’, with large deep pink racemes of flowers.
It is worth noting that the foliage of quite a number of Grevillea species is known to cause skin irritation in some people. Accordingly, care should be taken in locating these plants in the garden: they should not be placed where people would need to brush past them regularly, and it is probably better to avoid planting them in school playgrounds. The ‘Robyn Gordon’ group of cultivars is particularly inclined to induce this allergic dermatitis.
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay, 2010
Page last updated 9th December 2016