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Leptospermum juniperinum

Prickly Teatree

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub growing to 3 metres tall by 1 to 2 metres wide with rough bark.

It has a large distribution, growing along the entire NSW coast and just into the central and southern tablelands, extending as far north as Fraser Island in Qld, scattered through Victoria with some records in South Australia.

It grows in sandstone areas such as heathlands on cliffs as well as sandy swamps areas and peat bogs as well as moist sclerophyll woodlands.

Leaves are narrow-elliptic or narrow lanceolate, to 15 mm long and to 2 mm wide with a sharply pointed tip, with the upper part incurved to almost-tubular, mid to dark green and prickly.

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 produced solitarily, to 12 mm in diameter, white or greenish-white to pink, mostly from spring to summer.

The capsule is to 7 mm in diameter, persisting on the plant past maturity.

In the garden

This plant is known to be cultivated and there are a range of forms available in nurseries.

Tolerates poorly drained sandy, loam and clay soils in full sun to part shade and also extended dry periods. 

Useful in controlling erosion due to soil-binding fibrous roots, and for revegetating swampy areas. It is reported to be hardy. Can be used as a screening plant. Will tolerate mild to hard pruning.

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.

First Nations People made implements from stems, including pegs for kangaroo skins, hunting spears and eel spears.

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

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.
juniperinum – Latin – is a reference to a perceived similarity to the genus Juniperus – a genus of exotic conifers.

It is not considered to be at risk in the wild.

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

Wikipedia – Leptospermum juniperinum profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospermum_juniperinum

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

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 by Dan Clarke