Long-leaved Paperbark, broad-leaved tea-tree, weeping tea-tree, kaya putih
This melaleuca occurs in northern Australia, Papua New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. In Australia it is found near the coast of tropical Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia but extends inland up to 350 km along major rivers. Its latitudinal range is 3-23o S and it is mainly found from near sea level to 100 m. (QLD, NT, WA)
On favourable sites, a fast growing, tall tree, 25-40 m, with a straight stem up to 1.5 m diameter. The bark is white, layered and papery. Its long, slender branchlets often droop, giving the crown a weeping appearance. The plant is hairless except on very young shoots. Leaves are light green, with 5 nerves, thin, 10-19 cm long, 1-2 cm wide with a short leaf stalk. White or creamy small flowers occur on spikes, 6-15 cm long and 2-3 cm wide. Flowering occurs mainly May - September. Fruits are stalkless, thin-walled, cylindrical capsules about 4 mm long. There are about 1.8 million viable seeds per kilogram and they germinate readily in wet conditions.
Ecology/Way of Life:
Its distribution is in warm to hot, sub-humid to humid zones but it can extend to semi-arid areas along rivers. The area is mainly frost-free. Mean annual rainfall is 650-1500 mm with a strong summer maximum. Most stands occur in gentle topography, especially river flats, coastal plains and seasonal swamps. Soils are silty-loamy clays or sandy loams over clay. They may be very acidic, or have saline groundwater close to the sea. The largest trees occur in tall open-forest adjacent to rainforest or along riverbanks. It commonly occurs in almost pure stands but may be associated with species such as Acacia auriculiformis, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Nauclea orientalis and Dillenia alata.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
This species has been planted on seasonally inundated, acidic soils in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam to produce small poles. It is fire tolerant and a prolific seed producer and has the potential to become a weed.
Melaleuca leucadendra was named by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus in 1767. The genus name comes from the Greek melas = black, and leukos = white; its origin is obscure, but may refer to the black trunk and white branches of some species; the species name stems from the Greek leukos = white and dendron = tree, referring to the white bark. The name Melaleuca leucadendra (or leucadendron) has been used in a very broad sense to refer to a complex of several Melaleuca species.
Boland, D.J., Brooker, M.I.H., Chippendale, G.M., Hall, N., Hyland, B.P.M., Kleinig, D.A., Johnston, R.D. and Turner, J.D. 1984. Forest trees of Australia. 4th ed. Nelson and CSIRO, Melbourne. 687p.
Byrnes, N.B. 1986. A revision of Melaleuca L. (Myrtaceae) in northern and eastern Australia. Part 3. Austrobaileya 2: 254-273.
Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.
Topics:Aromatic oils Timber Climatic zones Commercial use Firewood Germination Honey Soils Vegetation types Waterlogging Salt-tolerance
Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy D. Lea.