Melaleuca alternifolia - Tea Tree

$6.00 AUD

Melaleuca alternifolia - Tea Tree

Habit and Habitat:
Melaleuca alternifolia, commonly known as Tea Tree, is an iconic Australian native. This evergreen shrub or small tree is indigenous to swampy or moist areas, displaying resilience in a variety of soil conditions.

Place in Local Habitat and Ecosystem Distribution:
Tea Tree plays a vital role in local habitats, particularly in wetlands and along watercourses. Its presence contributes to the biodiversity of these areas, supporting a range of native flora and fauna.

Planting Companions:
In your home garden, consider planting Tea Tree alongside companions such as Leptospermum spp., Banksia spp., and native grasses. This not only mirrors its natural habitat but creates a visually appealing, ecologically harmonious landscape.

Human and Wildlife Uses:
Tea Tree is renowned for its essential oil, extracted from its leaves, which has various medicinal and skincare applications. Its leaves have a refreshing flavour when added to hot water. Additionally, its nectar-rich flowers attract bees and other pollinators, enhancing the overall health of the ecosystem.

Care Instructions:
To cultivate Tea Tree successfully, choose a well-draining soil and a sunny location. Once established, it is relatively low-maintenance, requiring minimal pruning. Watering should be consistent, especially during dry spells, to ensure optimal growth.

Size, Height, Width, Flower, and Leaf Characteristics:
Tea Tree typically grows to a height of 2 to 7 meters, with a width of 1 to 3 meters. The slender, arching branches bear aromatic leaves and distinctive white, fluffy flowers that bloom in clusters, creating a visually appealing contrast.

Latin Etymology:
The genus name "Melaleuca" is derived from the Greek words "melas," meaning black, and "leukos," meaning white, referring to the contrasting colors of the bark and wood. The species name "alternifolia" indicates the alternate arrangement of the leaves along the stem.

Traditional Uses:
Indigenous Australian communities have a rich history of using Tea Tree leaves for medicinal purposes. They would crush the leaves to extract the oil, which was inhaled or applied to wounds for its antiseptic properties. Its papery bark is also useful.

Planting Guidelines:
To plant Tea Tree in your home garden, ensure well-draining soil, especially if recreating a wetland or riparian zone. Regular pruning helps maintain shape and encourages bushier growth. Tea Tree is a valuable addition to any garden, offering not only aesthetic appeal but also a touch of Australia's natural healing heritage.