Melaleuca ‘Ulladulla Beacon’ is a low, spreading mounded ground cover that reaches a height of 0.5 metres with a spread of at least 1.5 metres.
‘Ulladulla Beacon’ is a low growing form of M. hypericifolia that was selected from a wild population on coastal headlands near Ulladulla, New South Wales. The cultivar was registered in 1985.
Melaleuca spp. can present with simple and alternate or opposite leaves. In this cultivar, leaves are opposite and decussate (with each pair of leaves orientated as right angles to the adjacent pairs (decussate) (this feature combined with leaf size makes for easy identification); to 40 mm long and to 10 mm wide, narrow-elliptic to lanceolate in shape, with a prominent sunken midvein, generally light green to mid-green to somewhat grey-green or blue-green, depending on stage.
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 cultivar, plants produces many large orange-red bottlebrush-shaped spikes, up to 60 mm long and wide, usually produced on the older wood. Flowers can number up to 40 in each spike. The brushes are both conspicuous and prolific. Blooms are rich in nectar. Flowering extends through spring and summer.
Melaleuca ‘Ulladulla Beacon’ is a beautiful mounded groundcovering shrub. The dense foliage becomes living mulch as well as inhibiting weed growth. The flowers are a magnet for honeyeaters.
’Ulladulla Beacon’ could be grown on embankments and retaining walls as well used as a hedging plant along pathways.
Growth habit, foliage and flowers are all attractive features.
The upright form of M. hypericifolia tends to hide the flowers amongst the foliage whereas the blooms of ‘Ulladulla Beacon’ are presented, for all to see, at the ends of branches.
This cultivar grows abundantly in our cold climate garden [near Armidale, NSW].
All cultivars must be propagated from cuttings to maintain “true-to-type” forms.
In 1797, James Edward Smith (an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society) described the plant as:
“The most beautiful of the genus. It grows in swampy ground …is plentiful in the English gardens, and was generally taken for an Hypericum, till it lately produced, in several collections near London, its elegant flowers.”
This species easily regenerates after fire, producing coppicing basal and branch shoots. It will also regenerate by seed.
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, 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.
hypericifolia – Latin – foliage resembling that of the genus Hypericum. *Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort) is a rampant weed in parts of NSW.
‘Ulladulla Beacon’ – named for the location on the south coast of NSW where it is from.
NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Melaleuca hypericifolia profile page
Growing Illawarra Natives – Melaleuca hypericifolia profile page https://finder.growingillawarranatives.org/plants/plant/315
Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.
Gardening with Angus – Melaleuca hypericifolia profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/melaleuca-hypericifolia-ulladulla-beacon-honey-myrtle/