Common Name: Broad-leaved Paperbark
Etymology: Melaleuca: from Greek melas ‘black’ and leukos ‘white’ because of fire blackened scars on white bark of some species. quinquenervia: Latin for quinque– “five” and nervus “veins or nerves” a reference to the five veins visible on the leaf blade.
Origin: Native to East coast Australia from Botany Bay New South Wales to Queensland and Northern Territory, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. Naturalized and considered an invasive weed in many parts of asia and particularly Florida USA.
Description: Small to medium sized tree to 25m, slender trunk with few branches and compact crown.
Foliage: Dark green with 5 conspicuous longitudinal veins, mostly hairy. Broad-leaved, alternate, lanceolate to oblanceolate or elliptic, 3-15cm long and 8-30mm wide on flat twisted stalks 4-10mm.
Bark/Trunk: White to light brown, thick, spongy and rough, peeling readily in large sheets.
Flowers: White to cream or greenish flowers with 5 small obovate petals 2-4mm long and numerous long, protruding stamens fused at their bases into 5 clawed bundles. They are grouped in cylindrical brushes some 4–8 cm long and 2–3 cm wide borne at or near the end of branchlets. Flowers in Autumn and Winter.
Fruit: Woody seed pods containing many tiny seeds which are released annually.
Growth Requirements: Prefers sub-tropical to tropical coastal conditions but is highly tolerant of cold (-5), frost, extremely acid soils (pH 2.5), completely waterlogged and extremely dry soils.
Uses: Excellent street tree, park tree, salt tolerant coastal tree or wind break. Because of its high tolerance to waterlogged or flooded soils it has many uses in low lying areas (This is initially why it was introduced to Florida to help drain the Everglade swamp backfiring into an environmental weed). Other uses include timber for fence building, oil used for cosmetic and as a natural medicine. Traditional uses by indigenous Australians: Brew used from bruised young aromatic leaves to treat colds, headaches and general sickness. Bark was used for making shelters, wrapping food and lining ground ovens. Flowers were used to make honey.
Propagation: Propagation is easy from both seed and cuttings. Particular forms must be propagated from cuttings to ensure that plants true to the parent are obtained.
- Australian trees – Leonard Cronin