Melaleuca nesophila. SHOWY HONEY MYRTLE. Western Australia
MYRTACEAE (Myrtle family)

Showy
honey myrtle, from Doubtful Island, Western Australia, has beautiful mauve pincushion flowers surrounded by bright yellow anthers, the whole forming a ball about an inch in diameter suitable for cutting. After the flowers go, the seed capsules ripen in a smooth globular mass also about an inch long and remain on the stems for some time. The small oval leaves are a matte blue-green, about ½ by 1 inch, and clothe the plant to the ground in the early years. The arching stems and twigs are all covered with soft, multilayered, papery bark. The leaves, as with many members of the myrtle family, have a pleasant fragrance when crushed. Specimens growing on Campus Drive East at Bonair Siding were cut back severely by the freeze of December 1972, when daytime temperature did not rise above 32°f for three days. Melaleuca leaves are a source of “tea-tree” oil, used for rheumatism and other disorders; it would be nice if the name tea tree was restricted to leptospermums, used by Captain Cook as a source of tea leaves, but many melaleucas are referred to in Australia as tea trees. A large sheltered specimen is in the northwest courtyard of Stern Hall.

Illustrations (links open new windows): branchlet and flower, Stern Hall, 6/20/05

Additions/Revisions:

Callistemon and Melaleuca: Key to Species

Leaves simple; many showy stamens; branches passing through compact cylindrical or spherical clusters of sessile capsules and continuing as foliage shoots (illustration)

Stamens not united at their bases ............................................................. Callistemon
Stamens united at their bases into 5 groups opposite the petals................ Melaleuca:

Bark dark, hard; stamens whitish .................................................................... Melaleuca styphelioides
Bark more or less whitish, sponge-rubbery:

Leaves usually less than 1/8-inch wide; stamens white .......................... Melaleuca linariifolia
Leaves mostly 1/4-inch wide or greater; stamens purple ........................ Melaleuca nesophila

Name derivation, genus | species Greek mela (black) and leukos (white) because some species of the genus have black trunks with white branches | island-loving

Related material:

Botanical name index | Common name index | Family
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