A medium shrub to 2 metres tall by 1 metre wide.
It is found on the south coast of NSW, south from Mt Imlay in the Burrawangs, east of Boydtown, extending south through Victoria and Tasmania. It also occurs in New Zealand extensively.
In NSW, it grows in heath on sandstone and sandy soil, and often along creeklines.
The bark is firm and often light-brown.
Leptospermum spp. have simple and alternate leaves. In this species, the leaves are broad-lanceolate to elliptic, to 15 mm wide by 6 mm wide, with a sharp 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 produced solitarily, to 12 mm in diameter, white, or rarely pink or red, occurring in spring.
The fruit (capsules) are to 10 mm in diameter and woody.
This species is known to be cultivated commonly and is a favourite of beekeepers in order to produce Manuka Honey, a marketed health product and delicacy, reported to have many health benefits.
It is a hardy shrub and several cultivars are available (see below). This species is also the source of several cultivated hybrids. It grows readily in a sandy, free-draining soil and will benefit from some enrichment, in full sun to part shade. It does not get overly large, and so lends to small gardens. It may tolerate heavier soils.
It can flower profusely creating a very attractive show. Great for attracting bees.
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. This species is reported to be one of the more susceptible.
They are easy to propagate from seed or cuttings.
Many cultivars are available as well as hybrids. More cultivars have been made from New Zealand forms which are generally more attractive.
It can be (and has been historically) confused with L. continentale
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.
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.
scoparium – Latin – referring to “broom-like” or “sweep-out”, referring to the broom-like arrangement of foliage and branches.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
Australian National Botanic Gardens – Leptospermum profile page: https://www.anbg.gov.au/leptospermum/
NSW Flora Online – PlantNET – Leptospermum scoparium profile page:
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.