Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and Rainforest CRC, P.O Box 780, Atherton, Qld 4883
author for correspondence
Queensland. A key to the microphyllous species of Melaleuca in northern Queensland is provided.
During field studies in northern Queensland by the first author in 2001, the second author
drew attention to an unusual microphyllous Melaleuca that occurred in the Herberton
region on the western edge of the Atherton Tableland. The population was visited and
specimens collected for later study in the herbarium. In the field it was observed that the
plants were superficially similar to M. monantha (Barlow) Craven but differed from that
species in having, inter alia, a more typical tree-like habit and larger fruit. Melaleuca
monantha typically occurs as densely crowned, multistemmed plants although some
collectors have noted on specimen labels that the plants were trees (but without indicating
whether they were multibranched or not). The Herberton plants we observed were
sparsely crowned and single-stemmed.
Subsequent comparison of the Herberton material with herbarium specimens of M.
monantha established that they differed in a number of characters. The more distinctive
of these are listed in Table 1. In view of these differences, which are consistent with, if
not exceeding, differences accepted for species segregation in other Melaleuca
complexes in the Flora of Australia account of the genus (Craven et al. in press), it is
concluded that the Herberton specimens represent a previously unknown species of
Melaleuca, described below as M. sylvana.
Melaleuca sylvana Craven & A.J. Ford, sp. nov.
A M. monantha (Barlow) Craven hypanthio longiore (2-2.2 mm longo), filamentis
staminalibus longioribus (7-8.5 mm longis), stylo longiore (8-10 mm longo), et hypanthio
in fructu longiore (4-4.25 mm longo) differt.
c. 1.85 km along road from the Herberton-Watsonville road, 6 December 2001, Craven
excavated (i.e. impressed) adjacent to the leaf blade. Leaves decussate, imbricate,
amplexicaul, peltate, ascending (blade is appressed proximally at the point of attachment
to the branchlet but is ascending distally), distinctly dorsiventral, 1.5-3.7 mm long, 0.9-1.7
mm wide, 1.4-2.3 times as long as wide, sessile; leaf blade glabrescent, the indumentum
Muelleria 20: 3–8 (2004)
cilia on the margin, dull-glossy to dull, greenish or brownish, obovate or broadly obovate
(to obovate-elliptic), in transverse section lunate (i.e. concavoconvex), sublunate or
strongly so, in lateral view straight to recurved (the apex slightly incurved), the base
truncate, the apex truncately acuminate to obtusely and shortly acuminate or acuminate,
the 7-11 veins parallel; oil glands moderately dense to sparse, distinct or obscure, circular.
to distal axils of the reproductive seasonal growth flush, 8-18 mm wide, the rachis
puberulous, each monad subtended by a foliage leaf and the flower by a pair of bracteoles.
Hypanthium glabrous, pale orange, costate-cylindrical to cup-shaped, proximally not
compressed, 2-2.2 mm long, 1.9-2 mm wide. Calyx lobes 5, abaxially glabrous, costate,
herbaceous in the proximal-central zone and scarious in a narrow marginal band 0.1-0.2
mm wide, the margin ciliate, very broadly ovate to very broadly triangular, 0.8-1 mm long,
persistent at least until the immature fruit stage. Petals deciduous, glabrous, pure white,
sometimes flushed cream, distinctly but very shortly clawed, subcircular, 2 mm long,
margin ciliate; oil glands circular. Stamens in 5 bundles, imperfectly 2-seriate, 9-12 per
bundle, staminal ring absent; filaments glabrous, pure white, 7-8.5 mm long, the bundle
Craven and Ford
Open shrub or tree to 5 m tall
to 7 m tall
Rounded-obovate (never angular)
Leaf blade vein number
1.3-1.8 by 1.1-1.3 mm
2-2.2 by 1.9-2 mm
0.5-0.7 mm long
0.8-1 mm long
2 mm long
Oil glands absent
4.5-6.8 mm long
7-8.5 mm long
Staminal bundle claw
2-3.5 mm long
4.25-4.5 mm long
Free portion inserted in the
Free portion inserted in the distal
distal half to three-quarters of
quarter of the bundle claw
the bundle claw
0.4-0.6 mm long
5-6 mm long
27-30 per locule
6 mm in diameter
9 mm in diameter
2-3.2 by 2.5-4 mm
4-4.25 by 4.25-5 mm
0.8-0.9 mm long
1/2 the length of the embryo c.
1/3 the length of the embryo
filaments inserted on the claw margin only and in the distal quarter of the claw; anthers
generally uniform in size, oblong, 0.4-0.6 mm long, the connective not prominently
glandular. Ovary wall adnate to the hypanthium for the proximal one-quarter only;
placentation axile-median (although very near the base of the locule); ovules 27-30 per
locule. Style glabrous, straight or more or less so, 8-10 mm long, the stigma punctiform.
wide, 0.8-0.9 times as long as wide, 2-2.5 mm wide at the orifice; calyx lobes replaced by
sepaline teeth; staminophore not prominent, the inner distal wall of the staminophore with
5 reflexed free antesepalous triangular processes; valves inserted. Seed angular narrowly
obovoid to narrowly obovoid, 1.1-1.3 mm long, the testa membranous; embryo with the
cotyledons about one third its length, the cotyledons obvolute.
reference to the habitat in which this species is commonly found.
(collected in February, March, June and December).
29 March 1980, Hyland 10370 (QRS); 3 June 1997, Forster, Booth & Jensen 21214 (BRI). Toys
Creek, W of Herberton, powerline access road, 4 February 1996, Forster & Ryan 18443 (CANB);
June 1996, Ford 1739 (CANB, QRS); 25 May 1997, Sankowsky & Sankowsky 1576 (BRI); 25 July
1998, Bean 13732 (BRI). NORTH KENNEDY District: Mt Ronald, S of Ravenshoe, 23 December
1998, McDonald s.n. (AQ666176) (BRI). Mt. Ronald road, off Wooroora road, SW of Ravenshoe,
27 January 2004, Ford & Hewett 4286 (BRI, CANB).
Distribution and ecology: Melaleuca sylvana has been recorded from two regions in
the Herberton-Ravenshoe area on the western and southern side of the Atherton
Figure. 1. Distributions of Melaleuca species. The inset map of Australia shows the entire
distribution of M. monantha.
(800-)1020-1050 m (Fig. 1). It has been recorded as occurring in open forest, in heath on
rhyolite, in low open woodland of Eucalyptus abergiana and E. shirleyi with a closed
heathland of Melaleuca and Micromyrtus on weathered rhyolite, in Casuarina inophloia-
area and lies outside the World Heritage Area of northeastern Queensland. We
recommend that a detailed search be undertaken in adjacent habitats to fully assess the
conservation status of this poorly known species.
in the features given in Table 1. Also, M. monantha typically occurs in flat to slightly
undulating areas at altitudes less than 700 m and on poorly drained soils with impeded
drainage that suffer prolonged seasonal inundation. In contrast, M. sylvana typically
occurs on steep rocky hillsides at altitudes above (800-)1000 m and the soils, although
poorly drained, would rarely if ever experience inundation. Melaleuca sylvana has been
observed to resprout after fire, with profuse epicormic and lignotuber shoots. In such
instances the habit of the plant is more shrubby and less tree-like as a result of the
periodic exposure to burning.
In the identification keys given in Craven & Lepschi (1999), M. sylvana keys out in
Key 1 to M. monantha (Barlow) Craven. It may be inserted into Key 1 by replacing the
second lead of couplet 6 with the following:
6a. Hypanthium 1.3-1.8 mm long; staminal filaments 4.5-6.8 mm long; style 5-6 mm
long; fruiting hypanthium 2-3.2 mm long....................M. monantha (Barlow) Craven
6a. Hypanthium 2-2.2 mm long; staminal filaments 7-8.5 mm long; style 8-10 mm long;
fruiting hypanthium 4-4.25 mm long ..........................M. sylvana Craven & A.J. Ford
It is noteworthy that M. sylvana is the third species of the M. minutifolia F. Muell.
species group to be recorded from the Atherton Tableland (Herberton Range) area.
Lepschi 1999) and M. uxorum Craven, G. Holmes & Sankowsky the second (Craven et
richness may be due in part to the environmental diversity experienced towards the
western side of the Tableland; here altitude, climate and geology interact to produce
considerably different localised vegetation types which in turn may foster evolutionary
activity leading to speciation in lineages such as the present Melaleuca example.
Melaleuca sylvana co-occurs with other significant and localised northern Queensland
sclerophyllous endemic species such as Micromyrtus delicata and Homoranthus porteri.
The Herberton Range is well known also for harbouring a distinctive warm-temperate
floristic element in an otherwise tropical landscape. This is due to the elevation and the
distance from maritime influences, which creates a more varied and extreme climate that
is more similar to the Sydney Basin (for example) than the nearby tropical rainforested
hillsides. The warm-temperate element includes such species as Chorizema parvifolium,
Melichrus urceolatus and Mirbelia speciosa.
Key to the microphyllous species of Melaleuca in Queensland north of Lat. 20° S
1. Leaves more than 5 mm long ............................... non-microphyllous Melaleuca spp.
Leaves less than 5 mm long
3. Flowers in triads ........................M. uxorum Craven, G. Holmes & Sankowsky
3. Flowers in monads
4. Branchlets glabrous; style 5-10 mm long
5. Hypanthium 1.3-1.8 mm long; staminal filaments 4.5-6.8 mm long;
style 5-6 mm long; fruiting hypanthium 2-3.2 mm long .......................
................................................................M. monantha (Barlow) Craven
5. Hypanthium 2-2.2 mm long; staminal filaments 7-8.5 mm long; style 8-
10 mm long; fruiting hypanthium 4-4.25 mm long ...............................
...............................................................M. sylvana Craven & A.J. Ford
2. Leaves alternate
6. Hypanthium glabrous; leaves sessile and peltate; trunk and major branch bark
fibrous ...........................................................................M. tamariscina Hook.f.
6. Hypanthium usually hairy (rarely glabrescent); leaves sessile but not peltate;
trunk and major branch bark papery ..............................M. bracteata F. Muell.
The Directors and/or Curators of the following herbaria are thanked for the opportunity
to study collections in their care: BRI, CANB, QRS. Tony Bean kindly examined some
material in BRI on our behalf, and Paul Forster expedited the loan of specimens. Keith
McDonald (EPA, Atherton) is thanked for giving directions to the Mt Ronald population.
Trevor Parker (CSIRO, Atherton) provided invaluable assistance with preparation of the
Craven, L.A. and Lepschi, B.J. (1999). Enumeration of the species and infraspecific taxa of
new species from north-eastern Australia. Muelleria 18: 3-5.
Craven, L.A., Lepschi, B.J., Barlow B.A. and Cowley, K.J. (in press). Melaleuca. In ‘Flora of