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Natural populations

Melaleuca halmaturorum has two widely separated occurrences. In eastern Australia it is found in western Victoria and southeastern South Australia, including Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island [1]. In the south west of Western Australia it occurs mainly across the Avon Wheatbelt and Coolgardie regions. This species is usually a shrub or small tree to 8 m tall. It often forms thickets in swampy areas subject to waterlogging, including the fringes of salt lakes and samphire flats or near coastal dune systems. Soil types range from clays to loamy sands and are usually saline.

Flowering and seeds

This species flowers during October to December [1,2]. Mature seed capsules are maintained on plants for several seasons. There are over 2600 viable seeds per gram; seeds start to germinate in about 7 days if grown at 25°C with no pretreatment required [2]. Without application of fertiliser seedlings of this species will not grow.

Cultivation and uses

This species has excellent potential to remediate saline sites subject to waterlogging [1]. The main benefits in planting M. halmaturorum is for the stablisation of saline discharge areas where it can also provide shelter and a windbreak. The extent of provenance variation in this species has not been documented but is likely to be substantial as natural populations occur across a range of different habitats and are regionally disjunct.

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Annual rainfall 200-850: mm
Mean annual temperature: 13-19 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 22-35 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 3-9 °C
Frosts: frost free or more or less frost free or up to 20 per year
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -6°C)
Altitude: 0-400 metres
Tolerance of climate extremes
Fire: killed by damaging fire does not regenerate foliage
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Wind: tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors

Texture: clay loam, light to medium clay (35-50% clay), loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5), neutral (6.5-7.5) or alkaline (greater than 7.5)
Soil depth: moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Drainage:  poorly to imperfectly drained or seasonally waterlogged
Salinity: highly saline or slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in pH: acidity or alkalinity
Extremes in texture: clayey or sand
Salinity: extremely high (> 16 dS m-1), high (9-16 dS m-1) or moderate (-8 dS m-1)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: greater than 2 months or drainage may be sluggish at times
Biological traits under cultivation

Habit: evergreen, shrub or small tree less than 5 m tall or shrub or small tree 5-10 m tall
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Growth rate: slow
Coppicing ability: nil or negligible
Erosion control potential: excellent for clayey sites or excellent for sandy sites
Windbreak potential: tolerates salty coastal winds
Root system architecture: shallow and spreading
Shade tolerance: grows best in full sunlight
Wood density: low (less than 600 kg/cubic metre) or mod. to high (greater than 600 kg/cubic metre)
Carbon sequestration potential: low
Uses
Potential farm use: shelterbelt or shade for stock
Specialty products: good for honey, pollen has value
Urban use: suitable as a screen or hedge
Wildlife value: flowers are especially attractive to birds
Potentially undesirable attributes
Fire sensitivity: killed by severe fires (seeder)
Growth habit: shallow roots may outcompete adjacent plants
Weediness: potential high based on its biology

References

[1] Marcar NE, Crawford DF (2004) Trees for Saline Landscapes. RIRDC Publication Number 03/108, Canberra.

[2] Gunn BV (2001) Australian Tree Seed Centre Operations Manual. Internal Publication, CSIRO Australian Tree Seed Centre, ACT. [Online at http://www.ensisjv.com/Portals/0/atsc-opmanualcomplete.pdf  Accessed March 2008]

Internet links

eFloraSA Electronic Flora of South Australia:http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/texhtml.cgi?form=speciesfacts&genus=Melaleuca&species=halmaturorum 

FloraBase Western Australian Herbarium: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5916

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