Myall Lakes, NSW

Morehead, PNG


seed capsules

Natural populations

Melaleuca quinquenervia is widespread east of the Great Dividing Range in eastern Australia. It extends south from Cape York Peninsula in of north Queensland to the south coast of New South Wales with most occurrences are within 100 km of the coast [1,2]. Melaleuca quinquenervia is a tall tree up to 25 m tall which favours acidic, poorly-drained clayey soils in swamps and along watercourses.

Flowering and seeds

This species flowers during March to July; capsules ripen October to November and may persist on plants for at least a year [3]. There are over 2650 viable seeds per gram; seeds start to germinate in about 5 days if grown at 30°C with no pretreatment required [3]. Without application of fertiliser seedlings of this species will not grow.

Cultivation and uses

This species is adapted to acidic soils subject to waterlogging and that are moderately saline [2,4]. The wood is suitable for light construction but contains silica, which blunts saws and planes [1]. The timber can be used in the round for house stumps, fence posts, poles, mining timber or small piles. It produces a useful source of pollen and honey for apiculture [5].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 650-3900 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 16-26 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 25-34 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 5-21 °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: 0-165 metres
Tolerance of climate extremes
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant
Fire: regenerates foliage after damaging fire
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Wind: tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors

Texture: clay loam, heavy clay (greater than 50% clay), light to medium clay (35-50% clay) or loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam
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, poorly to imperfectly drained or seasonally waterlogged
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline or non-saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in pH: acidity
Extremes in texture: clayey or sand
Salinity: moderate (-8 dS m-1) or slight (2-4 dS m-1)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: greater than 2 months or drainage may be sluggish at times
Biological traits under cultivation

Habit: evergreen tree 10-20 m tall, tree > 20 m tall, usually produces a clear trunk
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Growth rate: fast or moderate
Coppicing ability: vigorous, responds to pruning, pollarding
Erosion control potential: excellent for clayey sites or sandy sites
Windbreak potential: tolerates salty coastal winds
Root system: moderate to deep, shallow and spreading
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: good for fence posts, good ornamental attributes or shelterbelt or shade for stock
Specialty products: good for honey, pollen, has value, bark used for potting mix, packaging, insulation or leaves are a source of cineole
Urban use: good as an ornamental or amenity plant or suitable as a screen or hedge
Wildlife value: a critical food source for at least one species or flowers are especially attractive to birds
Wood products: solid wood products flooring (including parquetry), light construction, poles (building, transmission, piling), posts (including fencing)
Potentially undesirable attributes
Growth habit: shallow roots may outcompete adjacent plants
Weediness: listed at least once as a declared weed species or potential high based on its biology


[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] Doran JC, Turnbull JW (eds.) (1997) Australian Trees and Shrubs: species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra [ACIAR books online: Accessed 24/02/2008].

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

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

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

Internet links

ABRS Species Bank:

Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants:

Botanic Gardens Trust:

CSIRO Entomology:

PlantNET National Herbarium of New South Wales: