Melaleuca micromera is a shrub reaching a height of potentially 4 metres with a spread to about 2 metres. It can be upright or low and spreading. Taller plants are described as resembling conifers from a distance.
It is endemic to the south-west of Western Australia, growing mainly in and near Stirling Range National Park (Mt Barker) with some records further east and south-east and with records near Tambellup (further north) and further north-west at Tone-Perup Nature Reserve.
It grows in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forest as well as sclerophyll shrublands in gravel-sand to clay soils.
It has a conservation code of Priority Three in WA, meaning it is “poorly known”.
Melaleuca spp. can present with simple and alternate or opposite leaves. In this species, leaves appear has heavily clustered, either tightly spiral or in whorls of 3; only to 2 or 3 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, ovate to oval in shape; mid green in colour.
In Melaleuca species, flowers are usually arranged in spikes or heads. Within the head or spike, the flowers are often in groups of two or three. Flowers have five sepals (sometimes fused into a ring of tissue) and five petals which are typically small and do not persist on the flower for long.
Like many other Myrtaceae genera, the flowers are conspicuously staminate with each flower having many stamens surrounding one carpel. The stamens are typically fused into five separate bundles (staminal claws) which each bundle sitting opposite a petal (a generally useful identifying feature for the genus to distinguish it from Callistemon). Melaleuca flowers do not have pedicels (sessile).
In this species, up to 20 staminate flowers are produced in condensed globular spikes or heads, up to 10 mm in diameter, yellow to dark cream in colour; each flower about 3 mm across and 5 mm long; produced in September to October. The overall flowering appearance resembles a wattle.
The fruit is a capsule. In this species, they are to 3 mm long and wide, arranged in small globular clusters.
Melaleuca micromera has proved to be very hardy, free flowering and once established has low water requirements. A light prune after flowering is appreciated.
It is a very attractive shrub in terms of foliage and flowers. It has been grown reliably on the east coast of Australia, at least as far north as Coffs Harbour.
Best grown in a sunny spot with some room to spread on a well-drained soil.
Western Australia has the lion’s share of melaleuca species with a high concentration occurring in the southwest. Unfortunately, few species are in general cultivation. Many Western Australian species have great horticultural potential.
We propagate this melaleuca from cuttings and they produce roots quickly and enthusiastically.
This species can regenerate well after fire through epicormic shoots and basal coppicing as well as form the seed bank.
The genus Melelauca has been subject to recent taxonomic revision with early and recent botanists including Ferdinand von Mueller and Lyndley Craven (deceased in 2014) proposing to expand the genus to include all Callistemon spp. and others. Craven et al. (2014) published new species combinations which included the renaming of all Callistemon species to Melaleuca, based on evolutionary relationships and DNA evidence and other features.
Currently, the NSW Herbarium advises that the Callistemon genus can still be used.
Melaleuca is a genus of about 220 species, occurring mostly in Australia, but also Malesia and New Guinea. Australia has about 215 species with 210 reported endemic, occurring in all states. NSW currently has 30 species.
Melaleuca – is derived from the Ancient Greek mélas (μέλας) meaning “dark” or “black” and leukós (λευκός) meaning “white”, apparently because one of the first specimens described had fire-blackened white bark.
micromera – Greek – micros (μικρός) meaing “small” and –meros (μερoς) meaning “part” (mera = parts) – referring to the small parts of all of this species. The type specimen was collected by Johann August Ludwig Preiss in 1840 about 100 km northeast of Albany and just south of Tinkelelup Nature Reserve.
This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild. However, it carries a conservation code in Western Australia of “poorly known”.
Western Australian Herbarium (1998–). Florabase: The Western Australian Flora – Melaleuca micromera profile page https://florabase.dbca.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5937
Australian National Herbarium – Melaleuca micromera profile page https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/gnp4/melaleuca-micromera.html
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.