Fremantle, WA

flowering sprig

flowers, foliage

Fruits, foliage

Natural populations

This species has an extensive occurrence across southern Australia extending the west coast of Western Australia to western Victoria, with occurrences in south and central New South Wales and south eastern Queensland [1]. There are outliers on Dirk Hartog Island and in the Darling Downs region of southeast Queensland. In the past, four subspecies of M. lanceolata have been recognised [2] but more recently it has been considered a single taxon [3]. Melaleuca lanceolata is either a bushy shrub 2-4 m tall, often much wider than tall or an irregularly branched tree 5-10 m in height. It is found along coastal dune systems and drainage lines in drier parts of its range. It grows on a wide range of soil types, including alkaline sands and shallow reddish clays derived from limestone and deep sands.

Flowering and seeds

This species starts flowering during summer [1,4]. Mature seed capsules are maintained on plants throughout the year. There are about 1320 viable seeds per gram; seeds start to germinate in about 7 days if grown at 10-25°C with no pretreatment required [4]. Without application of fertiliser seedlings of this species will not grow. 

Cultivation and uses

Melaleuca lanceolata is a relatively fast growing species that favours alkaline soils and tolerates moderate levels of salinity [5]. The dense canopy of this species provides excellent shade. Natural stands provide a particularly useful shelter as a windbreak on windy, near coastal sites. The wood is dense, dark brown, durable in the ground making it suitable for round fencing and is a good fuelwood [1]. It produces a useful source of pollen and honey for apiculture [6].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 250-850 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 12-21 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 21-35 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 1-11 °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 
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant 
Fire: killed by damaging fire does not regenerate foliage
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Wind: known or has attributes to make an excellent windbreak or 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: well-drained
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils 
Extremes in pH: acidity or alkalinity
Extremes in texture: sand
Salinity: moderate (-8 dS m-1) or slight (2-4 dS m-1)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: nil - sensitive to waterlogged soils

Biological traits under cultivation

Habit: evergreen shrub or small tree less than 5 m tall or tree 5-10 m tall
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Growth rate: fast
Coppicing ability: nil or negligible
Erosion control potential: excellent for sandy sites
Windbreak potential: excellent (known or has good attributes), tolerates salty coastal winds
Root system: moderate to deep
Shade tolerance: grows best in full sunlight
Wood density: mod. to high (greater than 600 kg/cubic metre)
Carbon sequestration potential: moderate

Potential farm use: excellent windbreak, good for fence posts, good ornamental attributes or shelterbelt or shade for stock
Specialty products apiculture: honey, pollen has value in apiculture
Urban use: good as an ornamental or amenity plant, ideal maintenance free street tree, suitable as a screen or hedge
Wildlife value: flowers are especially attractive to birds
Wood products: solid wood products craftwood (for turnery etc.), high quality fuelwood, posts (including fencing)
Potentially undesirable attributes
Fire sensitivity: killed by severe fires (seeder)


[1] Boland DJ, Brooker MIH, Chippendale GM, Hall N, Hyland BPM, Johnson RD, Kleinig DA, McDonald MW, Turner JD (2006) Forest Trees of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

[2] Barlow BA, Cowley KJ (1988) Contributions to a revision of Melaleuca (Myrtaceae): 4-6. Australian Systematic Botany 1: 95-126.

[3] Craven LA, Lepschi BJ (1999) Enumeration of the Species and Infraspecific Taxa of Melaleuca (Myrtaceae) occurring in Australia and Tasmania. Australian Systematic Botany 12: 819-927.

[4] Gunn BV (2001) Australian Tree Seed Centre Operations Manual. Internal Publication, CSIRO Australian Tree Seed Centre, ACT. [Online at  Accessed March 2008]

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

[6] Blake ST, Rolf C (1988) Honey Flora of Queensland. Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Internet links

FloraBase Western Australian Herbarium:

PlantNET National Herbarium of New South Wales: