Leptospermum epacridoideum

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub growing to about 2 metres tall by 1 metre wide.

It has a restricted coastal distribution in NSW, confined mostly to the Jervis Bay area and further north-west towards Nowra, with some records as far north as Corrimal and as far south as near Braidwood.

It grows in sandy heath and sclerophyll woodland-forest, on sand and sandstone.

Leaves are comparatively small, to 3 mm long and 2 mm wide, broad-elliptic to circular and aromatic when crushed, with a thickish texture and somewhat incurved; and with a small projection near the apex called an umbo. The leaves are densely clustered along the stems.

Leptospermum typically produce solitary flowers, or in small groups of 2s and 3s or more, within the leaf axils. Flowers have 5 petals and sepals and have a symmetrical rotate shape.  Stamens are produced in groups of 5 which surround 1 carpel (female part). The prominent feature in Leptospermum is the hypanthium, a cup or vase-shaped receptacle that supports the flower. In this species, the flowers are solitary, to 10 mm in diameter, white to pink, occurring in early summer.

The capsule is to 8 mm wide and persisting on the plant after seed is released. It has a gnarled and flaky appearance once mature. 

In the garden

This species is known to be cultivated and is commercially available. Given its natural distribution, it is recommended for beachside and other sandy gardens.

It has an almost-Thryptomene appearance which some gardeners may find attractive. Can be lightly pruned to create a dense bush with very small leaves.

Grow on a sandy soil in full sun to part shade for best results.

Most Leptospermum species make good garden plants.

Leptospermum are generally susceptible to the webbing caterpillar. Usually, the most effective control method for this pest is removing infestations by hand or, if necessary, you can systematically spray with a suitable pesticide. They are also prone to scale insects which is best treated by spraying white oil solution.

Propagation

They are easy to propagate from seed or cuttings.

Other information

Most Leptospermum species are endemic to Australia where most are found in southern areas of the country and many make desirable garden plants. Current estimates recognize about ninety species of Leptospermum along with many cultivars now existing.The nectar from the flowers of one species (L. scoparium) is harvested by bees, yielding honey, which is marketed as Manuka honey.

The general common name, Teatree, derives from the practice of early Australian settlers who soaked the leaves of several species in boiling water to make a herbal tea.

Leptospermum – derived from the Greek words leptos meaning “fine” or “slender” and sperma which means “seed” referring to the thin brown seeds of the genus.
epacridoideum – Latin – resembling an Epacris species, due to its small and clustered leaves.

Not known to be at risk in the wild.

Australian National Botanic Gardens – Leptospermum profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/leptospermum/

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Leptospermum epacridoideum profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Leptospermum~epacridoideum

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia. 

 

By Jeff Howes, edited Dan Clarke