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Leptospermum macrocarpum

Large-fruited Teatree

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub to 2 metres tall by 2 metres wide, with rough and gnarled bark.

It has a limited distribution, growing mainly in the greater Blue Mountains of Sydney, from Springwood to Lithgow and into Kurrajong and Mt Wilson, with a disjunct occurrence further north at Glen Davis, Mellong and Wisemans Ferry area. There are a few very disjunct and old records elsewhere which are considered erroneous.

It grows on sandstone – in exposed sites in heath or dry sclerophyll woodland.

Leaves are broadly elliptic, to 20 mm long and to 10 mm wide, with an acute to blunt and stiff point.

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 large produced solitarily, to 30 mm in diameter, with white to pink or dark red petals (sometimes pale green), and a pale green centre, occurring in summer and autumn.

The capsules are shiny brown to 20 mm in diameter and remain on the plant when mature.

In the garden

This species is not common in cultivation but should be more widely grown. It has stunning large flowers and fruits.

Likely prefers a free-draining sandy soil in an open sunny position to part shade.

It is available commercially though might be hard to source.
Reported to be hardy. Can be lightly pruned after flowering/fruiting to create a better density and form.

Unlike many Leptospermum species used in home gardens, for example L. scoparium cultivars, this species seems to be relatively free of pests and diseases.

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.

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.
macrocarpum – Latin-Greek – macro, from macros (μακρός) meaning “large” and carpum from carpos (kαρπός), meaning “fruit”, referring to the large fruit of the species.

Not known to be at risk in the wild.

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

Wikipedia – Leptospermum macrocarpum profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospermum_macrocarpum

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

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