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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Melaleuca quinquenervia - Paperbark Tea tree

Another tree from the southern hemisphere that preforms very well in California, maybe better in warmer areas than SC but still pretty okay. The paper bark tea tree is a medium to fast growing evergreen tree with an upright oval shaped habit, It can can have a pretty open or pretty full canopy. More likely grown for its fairly narrow habit and its beautiful bark.

These are at Cal Poly and you can see the open habit.

Leaves are simple, elliptical, 2-4" long by about 1/2" wide, entire margins, both sides look the same and the veins look parallel, unlike most dicots. Reddish new growth in the spring, medium green in summer and an odd purplish in the cooler season. May be slightly hairy, especially the petiole.

Terminal buds are red, pointed but only about 1/" long.

Flowers are typical of this group, sort of bottle brush like, off white to cream colored, lots of flowers in a tight cluster along the stem. Easily seen if you look at the fruit below.

Fruit is a small rounded capsule, about 1/4" diameter, retained on the stem for a long time.

As I mentioned, the bark may be why people plant this tree. Very light colored almost white, and very spongy. Peels off in large sheets.

This tree also goes by Punk Tree, Paperbark Punk, Cajeput Tree, Niaouli, and just plain old melaleuca. Considered invasive in at least 6 states.

Misidentification: Bottle brush when not in bloom perhaps. Look at the bark and the habit.

In front of Big 5 on 41st by Capitola Dr, nice grouping.

Santa Cruz:
209 Fridley
Ocean St, County Court House parking lot.
334 Pacheco Ave

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