Their botany, essential oils and uses



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MELALEUCAS

Joseph J. Brophy, Lyndley A. Craven 

and John C. Doran

THEIR BOTANY, ESSENTIAL OILS AND USES



MELALEUCAS

THEIR BOTANY, ESSENTIAL OILS AND USES



Joseph J. Brophy

School of Chemistry, University of New South Wales



Lyndley A. Craven

Australian National Herbarium, CSIRO Plant Industry



John C. Doran

Australian Tree Seed Centre, CSIRO Plant Industry

2013


The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) was 

established in June 1982 by an Act of the Australian Parliament. ACIAR operates 

as part of Australia's international development cooperation program, with a 

mission to achieve more productive and sustainable agricultural systems, for 

the benefit of developing countries and Australia. It commissions collaborative 

research between Australian and developing-country researchers in areas 

where Australia has special research competence. It also administers Australia's 

contribution to the International Agricultural Research Centres.

Where trade names are used this constitutes neither endorsement of nor 

discrimination against any product by ACIAR.



ACIAR MONOGRAPH SERIES

This series contains the results of original research supported by 

ACIAR, or material deemed relevant to ACIAR’s research and 

development objectives. The series is distributed internationally, with 

an emphasis on developing countries.

©  Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) 2013

This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the 

Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without 

prior written permission from ACIAR, GPO Box 1571, Canberra ACT 2601, 

Australia, aciar@aciar.gov.au

Brophy J.J., Craven L.A. and Doran J.C. 2013. Melaleucas: their botany, essential 

oils and uses. ACIAR Monograph No. 156. Australian Centre for International 

Agricultural Research: Canberra. 415 pp.

ACIAR Monograph No. 156

ACIAR Monographs – ISSN 1031-8194 (print), ISSN 1447-090X (online)

ISBN 978 1 922137 51 7 (print)

ISBN 978 1 922137 52 4 (online)

Technical editing by Mary Webb, Canberra

Design and typesetting by Sam Highley, Canberra

Printing by CanPrint Communications, Canberra

Cover: The crimson bottlebrush, Melaleuca citrina, a common species in coastal 

and subcoastal eastern Australia, and widely cultivated as an ornamental shrub 

(Photo: Sam Highley)


3

The genus Melaleuca currently comprises nearly 300 species distributed in Australia 

and South-East Asia. Melaleucas have been used for many purposes in Australia

including brushwood fencing and as ornamental trees and shrubs for gardens and 

street planting. They have also been used in farm shelterbelts and for rehabilitating 

salt-affected lands. In South-East Asia, melaleuca fuelwood is harvested from natural 

forests, melaleucas are planted for poles and posts on potentially acid-sulfate soils, and 

research is being undertaken into the suitability of their wood for fibre. Extraction of 

essential oils from the foliage of three species (Melaleuca alternifolia, M. cajuputi subsp. 

cajuputi and M. quinquenervia) is the basis of industries in Australia and elsewhere, 

and is a key contributor to several local economies.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has previously 

supported collaborative research between scientists in Australia, Indonesia and 

Papua New Guinea to provide the basis for local essential oil industries. It is therefore 

appropriate that it should take the initiative to publish a comprehensive account of 

melaleucas to further assist development of economic uses of these species. I anticipate 

that this book will be very beneficial to those planning and funding research on 

Melaleuca species, especially in Australia and the Asia–Pacific region. It should also 

be useful to people involved in reforestation and agroforestry who require information 

on species that can produce economic products and are capable of reasonable growth 

under poor environmental conditions.

The authors of this book are leading scientists in their respective fields and ACIAR 

appreciates their commitment to preparing such a scholarly and comprehensive 

account of melaleucas. This book is the first serious attempt to compile a consolidated 

account of the taxonomy, essential oils, silvicultural characteristics and utilisation of 

melaleucas. Detailed descriptions and natural distribution maps of all the species are 

included in this volume, many of which are being published for the first time. The 

authors made extensive field collections of melaleucas and analysed their essential 

oils to fill large gaps in published information. As a result, several species worthy 

of further study of their potential to produce economically important essential oils 

were identified. A searchable database of the melaleuca oil profiles is provided on the 

ACIAR website.

Foreword


Many people and organisations helped with the creation of this book, and are 

mentioned in the Acknowledgments section. The Commonwealth Scientific and 

Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of New South Wales 

provided institutional support for this activity over many years. Special thanks go to 

the Essential Oils and Plant Extracts Program of the Rural Industries Research and 

Development Corporation (RIRDC) for funding a collecting expedition to Western 

Australia. This allowed leaves to be collected from nearly 40 species not previously 

sampled for analysis of their essential oils.

Nick Austin

Chief Executive Officer

ACIAR

4

For



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5

Contents


Foreword

 ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 3



Melaleuca species

  .................................................................................................................................................................................. 8



Melaleuca synonyms

  .......................................................................................................................................................................... 11

Preface

  ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 13



1. Taxonomic history and systematics

  ............................................................................................................................... 15

Historical context

  .............................................................................................................................................................................. 15

Studies based on morphological evidence

  ......................................................................................................................... 16

Incorporating DNA evidence in classification

  ................................................................................................................. 16

Current and future classification challenges

  .................................................................................................................... 17

2. Introduction to the genus Melaleuca

  ........................................................................................................................... 19

General information

 ......................................................................................................................................................................... 19

Family and tribe

  ............................................................................................................................................................................. 19

Botanical name

  ............................................................................................................................................................................. 19

Common names

  ........................................................................................................................................................................... 19

Ploidy

  ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 19



Number of species

  ..................................................................................................................................................................... 20

Botanical features

  ............................................................................................................................................................................ 20

Habit and size

 ................................................................................................................................................................................ 20

Bark

  ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 20



Foliage

  ................................................................................................................................................................................................ 20

Flowers

  ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 21



Reproductive biology

  ................................................................................................................................................................. 21

Timing of flowering

  .................................................................................................................................................................... 23

Pollination and pollen biology

  ............................................................................................................................................. 23

Hybridisation

  ................................................................................................................................................................................. 25

Fruits

  ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 25



Seeds

  .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 26

Cotyledons

  ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 26



Geographical distribution and ecology

  ............................................................................................................................... 26

Natural occurrence and ecology

  ........................................................................................................................................ 26

Locations of planted forests

  .................................................................................................................................................  27

Tolerance of difficult conditions

  ............................................................................................................................................. 29

3. Uses

  ............................................................................................................................................................................................................  33



Ethnobotanical

  ...................................................................................................................................................................................  33

Ornamental, landcare, honey, bark and wood

  ................................................................................................................ 34

Ornamental and amenity–horticultural use

  ............................................................................................................... 34

Land rehabilitation

  ..................................................................................................................................................................... 36

Brushwood fencing and related products

  ....................................................................................................................  37

Honey

  ................................................................................................................................................................................................  37



Bark

  ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... 38

Wood

  .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 38



Fuelwood

  .................................................................................................................................................................................. 38

Posts, poles, stakes and sticks

  ........................................................................................................................................ 39

Sawn wood

  .............................................................................................................................................................................. 39

Woodchips

  .............................................................................................................................................................................. 40

Extractives

  ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 40

Non-volatile extractives

 .......................................................................................................................................................... 40

Foliar essential oils

  ...................................................................................................................................................................... 40

Commercially important oils

  ......................................................................................................................................... 40

Inter- and intra-specific variation

  ............................................................................................................................... 42

Species by oil type

  ............................................................................................................................................................... 42

Groundbreaking work on gene control of terpene biosynthesis in melaleucas

  ................................ 45

4. Propagation, silviculture and management

  .......................................................................................................... 47

Propagation

  .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 47

Propagation by seed

  .................................................................................................................................................................. 47

Vegetative propagation

  ........................................................................................................................................................... 48

Silviculture and management

  ................................................................................................................................................... 49

Plantations for wood production

  ....................................................................................................................................... 49

Plantations for production of essential oils

  ................................................................................................................. 50

Australian tea tree oil

  ......................................................................................................................................................... 50

Indonesian cajuput oil

  ....................................................................................................................................................... 52

5. Pests, diseases and other limitations

  ...........................................................................................................................  55

Pests and diseases

  ............................................................................................................................................................................  55

Other limitations

  ............................................................................................................................................................................... 56

Weediness/biological control

  .............................................................................................................................................. 56

Source of allergens

  ..................................................................................................................................................................... 58

6

Contents


6. Conservation and prospects

  .............................................................................................................................................. 59

Conservation status

  ........................................................................................................................................................................ 59

Prospects

  ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 60

Opportunities for wider use

 .................................................................................................................................................. 60

Caution

  ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 60



Advice is at hand

  ......................................................................................................................................................................... 62

7. Species accounts

  ............................................................................................................................................................................ 63

Acknowledgments

  ........................................................................................................................................................................... 395

Photograph credits

  .......................................................................................................................................................................  396

Appendix 1 Oil types by species

  ........................................................................................................................................ 397

Appendix 2 Species with potential for planting for a variety of uses in different 

climatic zones

  ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 403

References

  ..............................................................................................................................................................................................  407

7

Contents



8

Species name

Page no.

Melaleuca acacioides

65

Melaleuca acuminata



66

Melaleuca acutifolia

68

Melaleuca adenostyla



69

Melaleuca adnata

70

Melaleuca agathosmoides



71

Melaleuca alsophila



72

Melaleuca alternifolia

73

Melaleuca amydra



74

Melaleuca apodocephala

75

Melaleuca apostiba



76

Melaleuca araucarioides

77

Melaleuca arcana



78

Melaleuca argentea

79

Melaleuca armillaris



80

Melaleuca aspalathoides

82

Melaleuca atroviridis



83

Melaleuca barlowii

85

Melaleuca basicephala



86

Melaleuca beardii

87

Melaleuca biconvexa



88

Melaleuca bisulcata

89

Melaleuca blaeriifolia



90

Melaleuca boeophylla

91

Melaleuca borealis



92

Melaleuca brachyandra

93

Melaleuca bracteata



94

Species name

Page no.

Melaleuca bracteosa

96

Melaleuca brevifolia



97

Melaleuca brevisepala

98

Melaleuca bromelioides



99

Melaleuca brongniartii

100

Melaleuca brophyi



101

Melaleuca buseana

102

Melaleuca caeca



103

Melaleuca cajuputi

104

Melaleuca calcicola



106

Melaleuca 

calothamnoides

107


Melaleuca calycina

108


Melaleuca calyptroides

109


Melaleuca campanae

110


Melaleuca camptoclada

111


Melaleuca capitata

112


Melaleuca cardiophylla

113


Melaleuca carrii

114


Melaleuca cheelii

116


Melaleuca chisholmii

117


Melaleuca ciliosa

118


Melaleuca citrina

119


Melaleuca citrolens

120


Melaleuca clarksonii

121


Melaleuca clavifolia

122


Melaleuca cliffortioides

123


Melaleuca coccinea

124


Species name

Page no.


Melaleuca comboynensis

125


Melaleuca concinna

126


Melaleuca concreta

127


Melaleuca condylosa

129


Melaleuca 

conothamnoides

130

Melaleuca cordata



131

Melaleuca cornucopiae

132

Melaleuca croxfordiae



133

Melaleuca ctenoides

134

Melaleuca cucullata



135

Melaleuca cuticularis

136

Melaleuca dawsonii



137

Melaleuca dealbata

138

Melaleuca deanei



139

Melaleuca decora

140

Melaleuca decussata



141

Melaleuca delta

142

Melaleuca dempta



143

Melaleuca densa

144

Melaleuca densispicata



145

Melaleuca depauperata

146

Melaleuca depressa



147

Melaleuca dichroma

148

Melaleuca diosmatifolia



149

Melaleuca diosmifolia

150

Melaleuca dissitiflora



151

Melaleuca eleuterostachya

152

Melaleuca species


Melaleuc

a species

9

Species name



Page no.

Melaleuca elliptica

153

Melaleuca ericifolia



154

Melaleuca eulobata

156

Melaleuca eurystoma



157

Melaleuca eximia

158

Melaleuca exuvia



159

Melaleuca fabri

161

Melaleuca faucicola



162

Melaleuca ferruginea

163

Melaleuca filifolia



165

Melaleuca fissurata

166

Melaleuca flammea



167

Melaleuca flavovirens

168

Melaleuca fluviatilis



169

Melaleuca foliolosa

170

Melaleuca formosa



171

Melaleuca fulgens

172

Melaleuca genialis



174

Melaleuca gibbosa

175

Melaleuca glaberrima



176

Melaleuca glauca

177

Melaleuca glena



179

Melaleuca globifera

180

Melaleuca glomerata



181

Melaleuca gnidioides

183

Melaleuca grieveana



184

Melaleuca groveana

185

Melaleuca 



halmaturorum

186


Melaleuca halophila

187


Melaleuca hamata

188


Melaleuca hamulosa

190


Melaleuca haplantha

191


Melaleuca hemisticta

192


Melaleuca hnatiukii

194


Melaleuca hollidayi

195


Species name

Page no.


Melaleuca holosericea

196


Melaleuca howeana

197


Melaleuca huegelii

198


Melaleuca huttensis

200


Melaleuca hypericifolia

201


Melaleuca idana

202


Melaleuca incana

203


Melaleuca interioris

205


Melaleuca irbyana

206


Melaleuca johnsonii

207


Melaleuca keigheryi

208


Melaleuca kunzeoides

209


Melaleuca laetifica

210


Melaleuca lanceolata

211


Melaleuca lara

213


Melaleuca lasiandra

214


Melaleuca lateralis

215


Melaleuca lateriflora

216


Melaleuca lateritia

217


Melaleuca laxiflora

218


Melaleuca lazaridis

219


Melaleuca lecanantha

220


Melaleuca leiocarpa

221


Melaleuca leiopyxis

222


Melaleuca 

leptospermoides

223

Melaleuca leucadendra



224

Melaleuca leuropoma

226

Melaleuca linariifolia



227

Melaleuca linearifolia

229

Melaleuca linearis



230

Melaleuca linguiformis

232

Melaleuca linophylla



233

Melaleuca longistaminea

234

Melaleuca lutea



235

Melaleuca macronychia

236

Species name



Page no.

Melaleuca manglesii

238

Melaleuca marginata



239

Melaleuca megacephala

240

Melaleuca megalongensis



241

Melaleuca micromera

242

Melaleuca microphylla



243

Melaleuca minutifolia

244

Melaleuca monantha



245

Melaleuca montana

246

Melaleuca montis-zamia



247

Melaleuca nanophylla

248

Melaleuca nematophylla



249

Melaleuca nervosa

251

Melaleuca nesophila



252

Melaleuca nodosa

253

Melaleuca ochroma



255

Melaleuca oldfieldii

256

Melaleuca orbicularis



257

Melaleuca ordinifolia

259

Melaleuca orophila



260

Melaleuca osullivanii

261

Melaleuca oxyphylla



263

Melaleuca pachyphylla

264

Melaleuca pallescens



265

Melaleuca pallida

266

Melaleuca paludicola



267

Melaleuca pancheri

268

Melaleuca papillosa



269

Melaleuca parviceps

270

Melaleuca parvistaminea



272

Melaleuca pauciflora

273

Melaleuca pauperiflora



274

Melaleuca pearsonii

276

Melaleuca penicula



277

Melaleuca pentagona

278

Melaleuca phoenicea



280

Melaleuca species

10

Species name



Page no.

Melaleuca phoidophylla

281

Melaleuca phratra



282

Melaleuca pityoides

283

Melaleuca platycalyx



284

Melaleuca plumea

285

Melaleuca podiocarpa



286

Melaleuca polandii

287

Melaleuca polycephala



288

Melaleuca pomphostoma

289

Melaleuca preissiana



290

Melaleuca pritzelii

291

Melaleuca procera



292

Melaleuca protrusa

293

Melaleuca psammophila



294

Melaleuca pulchella

295

Melaleuca pungens



296

Melaleuca punicea

297

Melaleuca pustulata



298

Melaleuca pyramidalis

299

Melaleuca quadrifaria



300

Melaleuca quercina

301

Melaleuca quinquenervia



302

Melaleuca radula

304

Melaleuca recurva



305

Melaleuca rhaphiophylla

306

Melaleuca rigidifolia



307

Melaleuca ringens

308

Melaleuca rugulosa



309

Melaleuca ryeae

310

Melaleuca sabrina



311

Melaleuca salicina

312

Melaleuca saligna



313

Melaleuca sapientes

314

Melaleuca scabra



315

Melaleuca scalena

316

Melaleuca sciotostyla



318

Species name

Page no.

Melaleuca sclerophylla

319

Melaleuca sculponeata



320

Melaleuca seriata

321

Melaleuca sericea



322

Melaleuca serpentina

323

Melaleuca sheathiana



324

Melaleuca shiressii

325

Melaleuca sieberi



326

Melaleuca similis

327

Melaleuca societatis



328

Melaleuca sophisma

329

Melaleuca sparsiflora



330

Melaleuca spathulata

331

Melaleuca spectabilis



332

Melaleuca 

sphaerodendra

333


Melaleuca spicigera

334


Melaleuca squamea

335


Melaleuca squamophloia

337


Melaleuca squarrosa

338


Melaleuca stenostachya

339


Melaleuca stereophloia

340


Melaleuca stipitata

341


Melaleuca stramentosa

342


Melaleuca striata

343


Melaleuca strobophylla

344


Melaleuca styphelioides

345


Melaleuca subalaris

347


Melaleuca suberosa

348


Melaleuca subfalcata

349


Melaleuca subtrigona

350


Melaleuca subulata

351


Melaleuca sylvana

352


Melaleuca systena

353


Melaleuca tamariscina

354


Melaleuca teretifolia

355


Species name

Page no.


Melaleuca teuthidoides

356


Melaleuca thapsina

357


Melaleuca thymifolia

358


Melaleuca thymoides

359


Melaleuca thyoides

360


Melaleuca tinkeri

361


Melaleuca torquata

363


Melaleuca tortifolia

364


Melaleuca trichophylla

365


Melaleuca trichostachya

366


Melaleuca triumphalis

367


Melaleuca tuberculata

368


Melaleuca ulicoides

370


Melaleuca uncinata

371


Melaleuca undulata

373


Melaleuca urceolaris

374


Melaleuca uxorum

375


Melaleuca venusta

376


Melaleuca villosisepala

377


Melaleuca viminalis

378


Melaleuca viminea

380


Melaleuca vinnula

382


Melaleuca violacea

383


Melaleuca virens

384


Melaleuca viridiflora

385


Melaleuca williamsii

387


Melaleuca wilsonii

389


Melaleuca wimmerensis

390


Melaleuca wonganensis

391


Melaleuca xerophila

392


Melaleuca zeteticorum

393


Melaleuca zonalis

394


Melaleuc

a species

11

11




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