Leptospermum grandifolium

Mountain Teatree, Woolly Teatree

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub or small tree, capable of reaching over 6 metres tall, with smooth bark that is shed in papery strips or flakes.

It is widespread with the most northern and disjunct records occurring in NSW around the Lismore and Armidale areas, then south around Newnes State Forest, Lithgow and Gosford with most of the range extending through Sydney and the southern highlands, to the ACT, down the south coast and southern tablelands, into eastern Victoria.

It grows in sandy swamps and rocky streams in swampy shrubland and sclerophyll woodland and forest.

Leaves are narrow-elliptic to ovate/obovate to oblong, to 35 mm long and to 7 mm wide, often with a felty surface and a short, pointed tip.

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, flowers are solitary but heavily clustered along stems, white with red to dark pink sepals, up to 20 mm in diameter, occurring in summer.

The capsule is to 10 mm in diameter with the surface lifting and flaking.

In the garden

This one is commercially available and is known to be cultivated. It has some popularity overseas. It prefers moist to wet soils in full sun to dappled shade. Tolerates light frosts. Flowers are a good pollen and nectar source for many native insects, including moths and butterflies. Insect-eating birds are also attracted. It is useful in controlling streambank and gully erosion due to soil-binding fibrous roots. Can grow to a large shrub so allow some room to expand. Can be pruned heavily to keep it smaller and dense.

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

There are some reported cultivars online, sold in overseas nurseries such as ‘Eugene Hardy’.

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.

Many Leptospermum species have an ability to regenerate vegetatively after fire with suckering basal growth and branch-shoots. They will also regenerate by seed.

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.
grandifolium – from Latin: grandis meaning “great” or “large” and folium meaning “foliage”, referring to the large leaves.

This species is not considered at risk in the wild.

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

Woolshed Thurgoona Landcare Group – Leptospermum grandifolium profile page https://wtlandcare.org/details/leptospermum-grandifolium/

Wikipedia – Leptospermum grandifolium profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospermum_grandifolium

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

By Jeff Howes, edited by Dan Clarke