Leptospermum sphaerocarpum

Round fruited tea-tree

Family: Myrtaceae

A shrub to a height of 2 metres, with up to 1-metre spread.

It has a distribution from about Blackheath in the Blue Mountains of NSW, extending north through Lithgow, Kandos and east of Gulgong, with some scattered records towards Cessnock, then a somewhat-disjunct patch to Coonabarabran and Gunnedah and Warrumbungles NP.

It is typically found in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests on sandstone escarpments and ridges.

Leaves are broad to narrow-elliptic, to 10 mm long and to 5 mm wide, with a sharply-pointed tip; mid-green and curving upwards.

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, greenish-white or pink, to 20 mm wide, occurring from October to November.

The fruits (capsules) are to 10 mm in diameter, persisting after seed release.

In the garden

This species is not currently cultivated widely and there are no known growing conditions for a garden situation. It may be cultivated in the future. It grows naturally on sandstone areas and so may need a free-draining soil to do well.

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.


Generally, leptospermums 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.
sphaerocarpum – Latin – sphaero meaning “sphere” and carpum meaning “fruits” – referring to the rounded fruits of the species.

This species is not considered at risk in the wild.

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

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

Plants of South Eastern NSW – Leptospermum sphaerocarpum profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/plants_se_nsw/text/entities/leptospermum_sphaerocarpum.htm

By Jeff Howes, edited Dan Clarke