Leptospermum polyanthum

Family: Myrtaceae

A spreading large shrub to small tree growing to 5 metres tall by up to 3 metres wide, often with a pendulous habit.

It has a large distribution, with the most south-east records around Bowral, extending west to Wombeyan Caves, then north through the central and northern tablelands and western slopes as well as the central and north coasts with the most northern records in Dorrigo National Park near Dorrigo.

It grows on rocky escarpments or rocky gullies near streams in dry sclerophyll forest and heathland.

The bark on older stems is thin and rough, often furrowed or flaky, the younger stems have silky hairs at first.

Leaves are elliptic to linear, to 25 mm long and to 5 mm wide, with a blunt point, mid to dark green.

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 produced solitarily, sometimes in pairs, white in colour, to 6 mm in diameter, occurring from October to January.
There are reddish-brown bracts at the base of the young flower buds which are shed as flowers ripen.

The capsules are about 3 mm in diameter, and they are usually all shed from the plant once seeds are released and before the next flowering season.

In the garden

This species is not common in cultivation and little is currently known about its cultivation potential. It may become more common in the future.

It is found on rocky outcrops and gullies near streams and so may need a free draining soil to thrive. It is an attractive large plant and would compliment any garden. It is known to flower heavily.

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.

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.
polyanthum – Latin via Greek – poly (πολυ) meaning “a lot” or “much” and anthos (άνθος) meaning “flowers” – referring to the large number of flowers produced on the stems.

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 polyanthum profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospermum_polyanthum

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

 

 

 

By Jeff Howes, edited by Dan Clarke