Kunzea is a genus of about thirty species of evergreen woody shrubs distributed throughout the temperate areas of the Australian continent. There are a number of species in cultivation and all have attractive fluffy flowers of white, yellow, pink or red. Kunzeas are members of the Myrtaceae family and are closely related to Leptospermum and Agonis.
Kunzea affinis is a very attractive small shrub from the south-west corner of Western Australia where it grows in sandy soils and laterites. Several specimens at the Gardens have performed well in cultivation, providing a vivid splash of colour in late September and early October when numerous small rose-pink flowers cover the bushes.
Growing to a height of 1.5 m and 1 m wide, K. affinis can be an upright or sprawling bushy shrub with many fine woody branchlets. The small, crowded heath-like leaves are 4-6 mm long and 0.5-0.8 mm broad and exude a fresh aromatic smell after rain or when crushed. Young new foliage is bright green and provides a contrast to the dark green of the older leaves.
The flowers are produced in twos or threes at the ends of the branchlets. Each flower has five spreading oval-shaped petals and is 2.5-3 mm in diameter. The numerous stamens with their bright yellow anthers are exserted and add to the attraction of the flowers. The fruit is a small capsule which opens when ripe to release the fine seed.
Propagation is best carried out from cuttings of soft new wood taken in spring or early summer and these strike readily in four to six weeks. Seed is also successful but the seed is difficult to collect.
In cultivation these plants require good drainage in a sunny or semi-shaded position and will benefit from heavy mulching with leaf litter or wood shavings. Light tip pruning throughout the plant's development will encourage bushiness.
Kunzea affinis provides a pleasing effect when incorporated in group plantings with other dry area species, such as Melaleuca and Leptospermum.
Text by Effie Mullins, ANBG (1986)
Name meaning: Kunzea affinis
Kunzea - in honour of Dr Gustave Kunze (1793-1851), a German botanist;
affinis - from the Latin, adfinis, neighbouring, probably indicating an affinity to another species.