Leptospermum ‘Rudolph’ is a medium, upright shrub, growing to about 2-3 metres tall by 2 metres wide.
Leptospermum ‘Rudolph’ is a hybrid developed by Bywong Nursery in southern NSW. Its parents are L. spectabile and a burgundy-leafed form of L. morrisonii.
Leptospermum spp. have simple and alternate leaves, In this cultivar, leaves are heavily clustered along stems, linear / narrow-leanceolate / elliptic, to about 30 mm long by 2 mm wide, with purple tones when young and then aging to blue-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 culitvar, flowers are about 3 centimetres across, produced solitarily in leaf axils and are bright red to pink-red, produced mainly in summer.
Leptospermum spectabile is a rare tea tree from the Colo River north of Sydney. This is a spectacular species with large red flowers. Unfortunately, L. spectabile does not like our cold climate garden (near Armidale, NSW). We have tried to grow the species a few times with no success.
All is not lost because Leptospermum ‘Rudolph’ survives and thrives in our garden. Its flowers are similar in size and colour to L. spectabile and cover the plants in summer. The burgundy foliage, inherited from L. morrisonii, is a bonus. Some of our specimens are over five years old.
Best grown in an open sunny spot or with only light shade. It creates a nice dense plant if tip-pruned and shaped after flowering. The new purple-growth combined with pink-red flowers are a reall attrction. Tolerates a snady to clay loam soil – well drained. Will likely benefit from additional watering in hot and dry times. The summer flowering is another attraction.
Both parents have provided this hybrid with flower and foliage colour.
Must be propagated from cuttings to maintain cultivar characteristics.
Most Leptospermum species are endemic to Australia where most are found in southern areas of the country and many make desirable garden plants. However, please note the following changes:
In 2023, the genus Leptospermum of about 90-100 species, was reclassified and reduced to about 34 species, occurring in south-east Asia, New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. Australia now has at least 31 species, occurring mostly in the eastern states. NSW currently has 31 species. The remaining approximately 60 species, that were previously Leptospermum, are now classified in four new genera: Aggreflorum, Gaudium, Leptospermopsis and Apectospermum. Species in these new genera are titled as such on this website with the synonymous Leptospermum name also indicated, for clarity.
The many cultivars in existence are still titled under Leptospermum.
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 (λεπτός) meaning “thin”, “fine” or “slender” and sperma (σπέρμα) meaning “seed”, referring to the thin brown seeds of the genus.
‘Rudolph’ – named for the pink to red flower that appear in summer.
Gardening with Angus – Leptospermum ‘Rudolph’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/leptospermum-rudolph-tea-tree/
Australian Plants Online – Leptospermum ‘Rudolph’ sales page https://www.australianplantsonline.com.au/leptospermum-rudolph-tea-tree.html
Australian National Botanic Gardens – Leptospermum profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/leptospermum/