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Melaleuca

Photo: FNPW Image Library

Melaleuca

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Melaleucas, or paperbarks, belong to the genus Melaleuca. There are over 300 species of melaleucas, most of which grow in Australia. We know the larger species as paperbarks, while the smaller are usually called honey myrtles.

The often brightly coloured bottlebrush-like flowers of the paperbark tree attract nectar feeding birds such as honeyeaters and lorikeets, so they are an excellent tree to attract wildlife to the garden.

Many birds and other creatures rely on Melaleucas, such as Little Friarbirds, native bees, rosellas, Scarlet Honeyeaters, Nankeen Night Herons, Orange-bellied Parrots and even orchids.

Most paperbark trees flower in spring and summer but one that shows off its floral glory around April is the Broad-leafed Paperbark Melaleuca quinquenervia. It can grow to a giant 20m tall  and grows throughout eastern Australia. The flowers are creamy or greenish.

A northern paperbark which flowers any time of year after rain is the Long-leaved Paperbark Melaleuca leucadendra. You can spot these trees between Rockhampton in the east to Broome in the west. The fragrant creamy flowers attract birds and bees to the garden.

Just finished flowering around April is the Scented Paperbark Melaleuca squarrosa, a shrub or small tree with creamy or yellow flowers, small leaves and pale grey bark. You will find this plant across Tasmania, and on the coast in Victoria, eastern South Australia and southern New South Wales.

Did you know?

Paperbarks have been widely cultivated for growing in parks and gardens, well outside their native range. Many paperbarks which originally grew in small isolated patches now grow right across the country, thanks to the careful work of horticulturalists. Their bark makes them popular but their flowers also come in an amazing range of colours, from white, cream and yellow through to orange, red, pink, and even purple.

Tip

It's easy to recognise a paperbark - apart from multiple stamens which make up the flowers, the leaves often contain aromatic oils, like the distinctive tea tree oil.

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Quote

”BYB shows that people can make a positive difference to conservation efforts in Australia. Learn, explore and love your bit of wilderness.“

Michele – National Parks Ranger, NSW

Photo: OEH