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TEA TREE
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants—Industrial Profiles
Individual volumes in this series provide both industry and academia with in-depth coverage of one
major medicinal or aromatic plant of industrial importance.
Edited by Dr Roland Hardman
Volume 1
Valerian
edited by Peter J.Houghton
Volume 2
Perilla
edited by He-Ci Yu, Kenichi Kosuna and Megumi Haga
Volume 3
Poppy
edited by Jeno Bernáth
Volume 4
Cannabis
edited by David T.Brown
Volume 5
Neem
H.S.Puri
Volume 6
Ergot
edited by Vladimír Kren and Ladislav Cvak
Volume 7
Caraway
edited by Éva Németh
Volume 8
Saffron
edited by Moshe Negbi
Volume 9
Tea Tree
edited by Ian Southwell and Robert Lowe
Other volumes in preparation
Allium, edited by K.Chan
Artemisia, edited by C.Wright
Basil, edited by R.Hiltunen and Y.Holm
Cardamom, edited by P.N.Ravindran and K.J.Madusoodanan
Chamomile, edited by R.Franke and H.Schilcher
Cinnamon and Cassia, edited by P.N.Ravindran and S.Ravindran
Colchicum, edited by V.Šimánek
Curcuma, edited by B.A.Nagasampagi and A.P.Purohit
Eucalyptus, edited by J.Coppen
Please see the back of this book for other volumes in preparation in 
Medicinal and Aromatic
Plants—Industrial Profiles
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

TEA TREE
The Genus Melaleuca
Edited by
Ian Southwell and Robert Lowe
Wollongbar Agricultural Institute, Wollongbar, Australia
harwood academic publishers
Australia • Canada • China • France • Germany • India
Japan • Luxembourg • Malaysia • The Netherlands • Russia
Singapore • Switzerland
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006.
“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s
collection of thousands of eBooks please go to 
www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk
.”
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license
under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint, part of The Gordon and Breach
Publishing Group.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any
information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the
publisher.
Amsteldijk 166
1st Floor
1079 LH Amsterdam
The Netherlands
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Tea tree: the genus melaleuca.—(Medicinal and aromatic
plants: industrial profiles; v. 9)
1. Melaleuca 2. Melaluca alternifolia oil 3. Melaleuca—
Industrial applications 4. Melaleuca—Therapeutic use
I. Southwell, Ian II. Lowe, Robert
583.7'65
ISBN 0-203-30360-1 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 0-203-34323-9 (Adobe eReader Format)
ISBN 90-5702-417-9 (Print Edition)
ISSN 1027-4502
The cover illustration depicts a Melaleuca alternifolia mature tree drawn by Lexanne
Leach.
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

v
CONTENTS
Preface to the Series
vii
Contributors
ix
Introduction
1
Ian Southwell
1
Behind the Names: The Botany of Tea Tree, Cajuput and Niaouli
11
Lyn A.Craven
2
Tea Tree Constituents
29
Ian Southwell
3
Cultivation of Tea Tree
63
Robert T.Colton and G.John Murtagh
4
Weed Management in Tea Tree Plantations
81
John G.Virtue
5
Insect Pests of Tea Tree: Can Plantation Pests be Managed?
97
A.J.Campbell and C.D.A.Maddox
6
Biomass and Oil Production of Tea Tree
1
09
G.John Murtagh
7
Tea Tree Breeding
135
Gary Baker
8
Tea Tree Oil Distillation
155
Geoffrey R.Davis
9
Biological Activity of Tea Tree Oil
169
Julie L.Markham
10
Toxicology of Tea Tree Oil
1
91
Michael Russell
11
Tea Tree Oil in Cosmeceuticals: From Head to Toe
2
03
Don Priest
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

CONTENTS
vi
12
Formulating for Effect
207
James S.Rowe
13
Tea Tree Oil Marketing Trends
213
Richard L.Davis
14
Cajuput Oil
221
John C.Doran
 
15
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cavanilles) S.T.Blake, Niaouli
237
B.Trilles, S.Bourïma-Madjebi and G.Valet
 
16
Potentially Commercial Melaleucas
247
Joseph J.Brophy
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

vii
PREFACE TO THE SERIES
There is increasing interest in industry, academia and the health sciences in medicinal and
aromatic plants. In passing from plant production to the eventual product used by the public,
many sciences are involved. This series brings together information which is currently
scattered through an ever increasing number of journals. Each volume gives an in-depth
look at one plant genus, about which an area specialist has assembled information ranging
from the production of the plant to market trends and quality control.
Many industries are involved such as forestry, agriculture, chemical, food, flavour,
beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and fragrance. The plant raw materials are roots,
rhizomes, bulbs, leaves, stems, barks, wood, flowers, fruits and seeds. These yield gums,
resins, essential (volatile) oils, fixed oils, waxes, juices, extracts and spices for medicinal
and aromatic purposes. All these commodities are traded world-wide. A dealer’s market
report for an item may say “Drought in the country of origin has forced up prices”.
Natural products do not mean safe products and account of this has to be taken by the
above industries, which are subject to regulation. For example, a number of plants which
are approved for use in medicine must not be used in cosmetic products.
The assessment of safe to use starts with the harvested plant material which has to comply
with an official monograph. This may require absence of, or prescribed limits of, radioactive
materials, heavy metals, aflatoxins, pesticide residue, as well as the required level of active
principle. This analytical control is costly and tends to exclude small batches of plant material.
Large scale contracted mechanised cultivation with designated seed or plantlets is now
preferable.
Today, plant selection is not only for the yield of active principle, but for the plant’s
ability to overcome disease, climatic stress and the hazards caused by mankind. Such methods
as in vitro fertilisation, meristem cultures and somatic embryogenesis are used. The transfer
of sections of DNA is giving rise to controversy in the case of some end-uses of the plant
material.
Some suppliers of plant raw material are now able to certify that they are supplying
organically-farmed medicinal plants, herbs and spices. The Economic Union directive (CVO/
EU No 2092/91) details the specifications for the obligatory quality controls to be carried
out at all stages of production and processing of organic products.
Fascinating plant folklore and ethnopharmacology leads to medicinal potential. Examples
are the muscle relaxants based on the arrow poison, curare, from species of Chondrodendron,
and the antimalarials derived from species of Cinchona and Artemisia. The methods of
detection of pharmacological activity have become increasingly reliable and specific,
frequently involving enzymes in bioassays and avoiding the use of laboratory animals. By
using bioassay linked fractionation of crude plant juices or extracts, compounds can be
specifically targeted which, for example, inhibit blood platelet aggregation, or have
antitumour, or antiviral, or any other required activity. With the assistance of robotic devices,
all the members of a genus may be readily screened. However, the plant material must be
fully authenticated by a specialist.
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

PREFACE TO THE SERIES
viii
The medicinal traditions of ancient civilisations such as those of China and India have
a large armamentarium of plants in their pharmacopoeias which are used throughout South
East Asia. A similar situation exists in Africa and South America. Thus, a very high percentage
of the world’s population relies on medicinal and aromatic plants for their medicine. Western
medicine is also responding. Already in Germany all medical practitioners have to pass an
examination in phytotherapy before being allowed to practise. It is noticeable that throughout
Europe and the USA, medical, pharmacy and health related schools are increasingly offering
training in phytotherapy.
Multinational pharmaceutical companies have become less enamoured of the single
compound magic bullet cure. The high costs of such ventures and the endless competition
from “copy” compounds from rival companies often discourage the attempt. Independent
phytomedicine companies have been very strong in Germany. However, by the end of 1995,
eleven (almost all) had been acquired by the multinational pharmaceutical firms,
acknowledging the lay public’s growing demand for phytomedicines in the Western World.
The business of dietary supplements in the Western World has expanded from the Health
Store to the pharmacy. Alternative medicine includes plant based products. Appropriate
measures to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of these either already exist or are being
answered by greater legislative control by such bodies as the Food and Drug Administration
of the USA and the recently created European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal
Products, based in London.
In the USA, the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994 recognised the
class of phytotherapeutic agents derived from medicinal and aromatic plants. Furthermore,
under public pressure, the US Congress set up an Office of Alternative Medicine and this
office in 1994 assisted the filing of several Investigational New Drug (IND) applications,
required for clinical trials of some Chinese herbal preparations. The significance of these
applications was that each Chinese preparation involved several plants and yet was handled
as a single IND. A demonstration of the contribution to efficacy, of each ingredient of each
plant, was not required. This was a major step forward towards more sensible regulations in
regard to phytomedicines.
My thanks are due to the staff of Harwood Academic Publishers who have made this
series possible and especially to the volume editors and their chapter contributors for the
authoritative information.
Roland Hardman
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

ix
Gary Baker
Wollongbar Agricultural Institute
Wollongbar NSW 2477
Australia
S.Bouraïma-Madjebi
Laboratoire de Biologie et Physiologie
Végétales Appliquées
Université Française du Pacifique
Centre Universitaire de Nouvelle Calédonie
BP 4477 Noumea
New Caledonia
Joseph J.Brophy
School of Chemistry
University of NSW
Sydney NSW 2052
Australia
A.J.Campbell
Tropical Fruit Research Station
NSW Agriculture
PO Box 72
Alstonville NSW 2477
Australia
Robert T.Colton
NSW Agriculture
Locked Bag 21
Orange NSW 2800
Australia
Lyn A.Craven
CSIRO Division of Plant Industry
Australian National Herbarium
GPO Box 1600
Canberra ACT 2601
Australia
Geoffrey R.Davis
21 Rosemead Road
Hornsby NSW 2077
Australia
Richard L.Davis
GR Davis Pty Ltd
3/9 Apollo Street
Warriewood NSW 2102 
Australia
John C.Doran
Australian Tree Seed Centre
CSIRO Division of Plant Industry
PO Box 4008 Queen Victoria Terrace
Canberra ACT 2600
Australia
C.D.A.Maddox
Tropical Fruit Research Station
NSW Agriculture
PO Box 72
Alstonville NSW 2477
Australia
Julie L.Markham
School of Applied & Environmental
Sciences
University of Western Sydney
Hawkesbury
Richmond NSW 2753
Australia
G.John Murtagh
Agricultural Water Management
2 Sunnybank Avenue
Goonellabah NSW 2480
Australia
CONTRIBUTORS
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

CONTRIBUTORS
x
Don Priest
Australian Tea Tree Oil Research Institute
Southern Cross University
Lismore NSW 2480
Australia
James S.Rowe
Technical Consultancy Services Pty Ltd
20 King Street
Rockdale NSW 2216
Australia
Michael Russell
Wollongbar Agricultural Institute
Wollongbar NSW 2477
Australia
Ian Southwell
Wollongbar Agricultural Institute
Wollongbar NSW 2477
Australia
B.Trilles
Laboratoire de Biologie et Physiologie
Végétales Appliquées
Université Française du Pacifique
Centre Universitaire de Nouvelle Calédonie
BP 4477 Noumea
New Caledonia
G.Valet
Laboratoire de Biologie et Physiologie
Végétales Appliquées
Université Française du Pacifique
Centre Universitaire de Nouvelle Calédonie
BP 4477 Noumea
New Caledonia
John G.Virtue
Sustainable Resources Group
Primary Industries SA
GPO Box 1671
Adelaide SA 5001
Australia
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

1
INTRODUCTION
IAN SOUTHWELL
Wollongbar Agricultural Institute, Wollongbar, NSW, Australia
The Australian flora is rich in trees and shrubs from the family Myrtaceae. Eucalyptus, is
well known for profuse oil glands which contain a diverse range of constituents, of which
1,8-cineole is the most abundant and most commercially utilized (Doran 1991). The genus
Melaleuca also contains hundreds of individual species with a myriad of oil constituents
present in the leaf (Brophy and Doran 1996). Both genera extend beyond Australia to
neighbouring regions of SE Asia and the Pacific. Eucalyptus is now grown extensively in
many parts of the world. Consequently Australia produces only about five percent of the
world’s eucalyptus oil. Although Melaleuca has not yet been as extensively dispersed,
plantings of M. alternifolia have been established in the United States, Zimbabwe, New
Zealand, China, India and other countries. Provenances of M. quinquenervia, a species
native to Australia, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea, have been grown in Madagascar
(Ramanoelina et al. 1992, 1994) and, along with the New Caledonian provenance, have
been used as a source of niaouli oil. M. cajuputi, native to Australia, Indonesia, Papua New
Guinea, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, along with some provenances of M.
quinquenervia have sometimes been described as M. leucadendron (Todorova and Ognyanov
1988; Motl et al. 1990). In addition, M. quinquenervia is grown elsewhere as an ornamental
species and for swamp reclamation and erosion control. In Florida this species has colonized
vast areas to the detriment of the environmentally important Everglades (Weiss 1997) but in
Hawaii, plantings of an estimated two million trees have not produced a weed problem
(Geary 1988).
Although some other uses are found for Melaleuca, this aromatic and medicinal plant
genus is best known for the production of medicinal essential oils. Non-medicinal uses
(Boland et al. 1984; Wrigley and Fagg 1993) include broom fence manufacture from the
branches, bark paintings, sealing and insulation from their many coloured barks, fuel and
construction materials from the wood and honey from the nectar.
Oil production figures indicate increasing M. alternifolia (tea tree) and M. cajuputi
(cajuput) volumes with steady but smaller outputs of M. quinquenervia (niaouli) oil.
Production estimates are shown in the 
Table 1
. The space allocated to each of these species
in this volume reflects their industrial significance.
The name tea tree arose when Captain James Cook, on his exploratory voyage of Australia
in 1770, encountered a myrtaceous shrub (possibly a Leptospermum) with leaves that were
used by his sailors as a substitute for tea (Camellia sinensis). The naturalist, Sir Joseph
Banks, collected specimens of tea tree during this voyage. Subsequently these myrtaceous
shrubs, now known as the genera Leptospermum, Melaleuca., Kunzea and Baeckea, were
collectively known as “tea trees”, not to be confused with the Maori or Samoan derived “ti-
tree” or “ti-palm” names given to plants of the Cordyline genus (Weiss 1997).
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

IAN SOUTHWELL
2
Table 1 Estimated production (tonnes per annum) for Melaleuca oils
a
Industry estimate; 
b
Guenther (1950); 
c
Lawrence (1985).
Banks, on his 1770 voyage with Cook, also collected specimens from taller
broadleaved tea trees. The long standing tendency to treat these large leaved species
collectively as M. leucadendron was in many ways overcome when Blake (1968)
distinguished M. leucadendron, M. cajuputi, M. quinquenervia and M. viridiflora. The
first of these is now known as M. leucadendra. Both M. cajuputi and M. quinquenervia
have been distilled since last century for the production of cajuput and niaouli oils
respectively (Penfold and Morrison 1950). Both oils were used in medicinal preparations,
especially for the treatment of internal disorders, stomach and intestinal problems
including worms, and for the relief of headache, toothache, laryngitis and bronchitis.
The oils also have reputed insecticidal properties. The leaves of these plants have been
reported to have been used by the Australian aborigines for colds, influenza, fever and
congestion, by inhaling the vapour from crushed leaves in boiling water or by sipping
the infused water (Aboriginal Communities 1988).
The aboriginal use of the smaller leaved tea trees like M. alternifolia is not as easy to
confirm although it is possible that the leaves were tied as a poultice to a wound. The
resurgence of the tea tree oil industry in the 1980s has prompted statements such as
“the aborigines are sure to have used the species” which have then been repeated as
“the aborigines used the plant” and then as “when Captain Cook came to Australia he
found that tea tree oil was already in use”. With the last statement obviously erroneous
because of the absence of distillation facilities, one tends to even question the validity
of the earlier quotes. Confirmation of the aboriginal use of medicinal plants some 200
years ago is difficult in a culture where such remedies are preserved by oral and not
written tradition.
Throughout this volume, the term “tea tree oil” will be reserved for “Oil of Melaleuca
Terpinen-4-ol Type” derived from M. alternifolia, M. linariifolia, M. dissitiflora and other
species of Melaleuca, giving comparable oils conforming to the ISO Standard
(International Standards Organisation 1996). The broad leaved tea tree oils, normally
known by their specific names of cajuput or niaouli when derived from M. cajuputi and
M. quinquenervia respectively are named as such in this volume. Non-cineole chemical
varieties of these two species will be clearly identified as being atypical of the usual
commercial varieties.
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

INTRODUCTION
3
The “tea tree” oil industry based around the distillation of M. alternifolia and associated
species is at an exciting stage of development as this volume goes to print. The last ten years
have seen a ten-fold increase in production to around 300 tonnes per annum, coming from
in excess of three thousand hectares of plantations (
Plate 1
) and natural stands. During this
time, plantation production has increased from a seemingly insignificant contribution with
respect to bush oil production, to being the predominant source of oil.
With this development have come the problems associated with a new monoculture crop.
Right from the plantation planning stage, matters like financial costing, soil suitability, site
requirements, land preparation, choice of genetic material, propagation method, nursery
establishment, transplanting, plant density and plant configuration are issues that need
addressing (Colton and Murtagh 1990). Weed and insect control, fertiliser application,
irrigation, harvest machinery, season and height of harvest all require prior planning.
Appropriate processing equipment and operating procedures must all be in place before the
first harvest and quality control methods established before market outlets can be located
and maintained. For the continuing bush industry, the operation begins with hand harvesting
of private or licensed forest lands and continues with the processing, quality assessment,
value adding and marketing aspects of the industry.
Production of tea tree oil is but one of the many areas covered by this volume. For
example, confusing aspects of the taxonomy of the commercial Melaleucas are clarified by
the botanist undertaking a complete taxonomic revision of the genus. The increasing
commercial value of the industry has initiated similar in-depth studies in all other areas of
Melaleuca oil production.
The chemistry of the oil has been thoroughly investigated by several researchers, some
of whom have discovered in situ leaf precursors which transform during distillation to the
commercial oil constituents (Southwell and Stiff 1989). Other investigators have used 
13
C
nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), chiral gas chromatography (GC) and 
18
O incorporation
to add to our knowledge of the chemistry of the oil and its in vivo and in vitro formation
(Leach et al. 1993; Cornwell et al. 1995).
With leaf and oil yields of utmost importance for producer profit, much research has
gone into factors that effect biomass and oil yields. Parameters such as oil gland anatomy
and density, nutrients, temperature, irrigation, time of harvest, post-harvest drying, wind
breaks and others have been studied (Murtagh and Etherington 1990; Murtagh 1991; List et
al. 1995; Murtagh 1996; Murtagh and Smith 1996; Whish and Williams 1996).
Weeds and insects flourish in the warm regions where tea tree thrives. Both chemical
and non-chemical means of weed control have been assessed and recommendations made
available to producers (Virtue 1997; Storrie et al. 1997). Similarly, insect and pathogen
attacks on tea tree have been documented, pest species listed and control procedures
recommended (Campbell and Maddox 1997). Pesticides have been recommended and residue
carry over into the distilled oil has been monitored. The fate of the volatile oil in some
insect species has been studied by examining frass volatiles and reasons for the metabolism
of cineole advanced (Southwell et al. 1995).
Harvesting tea tree from natural stands leaves one exposed to the genetic and chemical
variation that occurs in nature. Plantation establishment provides an opportunity to eliminate
this variation by the selection of genetically improved planting stock. Although propagation
by tissue culture and cuttings have been investigated, the quantities of seedlings required
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,


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