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Melaleuca alternifolia - (Maiden.&Betche.)Cheel.

Common Name Tea Tree
Family Myrtaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards Do not take internally. Possible central nervous system depression along with ataxia and drowsiness. Possible stomatitis, vomiting, diarrhoea and gastrointestinal irritation when taken orally [301].
Habitats Swamps by the coast[156].
Range Australia - New South Wales, Queensland.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Half Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Melaleuca alternifolia Tea Tree

Melaleuca alternifolia Tea Tree


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Melaleuca alternifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 4 m (13ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 9. It is in leaf all year, in flower in June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Melaleuca linariifolia var. alternifolia Maiden & Betche

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge;

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Alterative  Antibacterial  Antiseptic  Aromatherapy  Diaphoretic  Expectorant

Tea tree, and in particular its essential oil, is one of the most important natural antiseptics and it merits a place in every medicine chest[254]. It is useful for treating stings, burns, wounds and skin infections of all kinds[254]. An essential oil obtained from the leaves and twigs is strongly antiseptic, diaphoretic and expectorant[156, 157, 238]. It stimulates the immune system and is effective against a broad range of bacterial and fungal infections[238]. Internally, it is used in the treatment of chronic and some acute infections, notably cystitis, glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome[254]. It is used externally in the treatment of thrush, vaginal infections, acne, athlete's foot, verrucae, warts, insect bites, cold sores and nits[238]. It is applied neat to verrucae, warts and nits, but is diluted with a carrier oil such as almond for other uses[238]. The oil is non-irritant[238]. Another report says that high quality oils contain about 40% terpinen-4-ol, which is well tolerated by the skin and 5% cineol which is irritant. However, in poor quality oils the levels of cineol can exceed 10% and in some cases up to 65%[254]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Antiseptic'[210].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Essential  Wood

An essential oil is obtained from the leaves[156, 157]. It is strongly germicidal and is also used in dentistry, deodorants, soaps, mouthwashes etc[156, 238]. Wood - very durable in wet conditions and in damp ground[167].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Management: Coppice  Management: Standard  Regional Crop

Requires a fertile, well-drained moisture retentive lime-free soil in full sun[182]. Prefers a soil that does not contain much nitrogen[188]. Plants are shade tolerant and succeed in most soils and aspects except dry conditions when they are grown in Australian gardens[157]. This species is not very cold hardy and is only likely to succeed outdoors in the very mildest parts of Britain. It tolerates temperatures down to at least -7°c in Australian gardens[157] but this cannot be translated directly to British gardens because of our cooler summers and longer colder and wetter winters. Seed takes about 12 months to develop on the plant, the woody seed capsules persist for 3 or more years[200]. Any pruning is best done after the plants have flowered with the intention of maintaining a compact habit[200]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Medicinal  Most pharmaceuticals are synthesized from petroleum but 25% of modern medicines are based on plants.
  • Management: Coppice  Cut to the ground repeatedly - resprouting vigorously. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow in spring or autumn onto a pot of permanently moist soil in a warm greenhouse. Emmerse in 5cm of water and do not water from overhead. Grow on until the seedlings are 0.5cm tall then remove from the water and pot up a week later. Seedlings are liable to damp off when grown this way, sowing the seed thinly, good ventilation and hygiene are essential for success[200]. Grow the plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and then plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe lateral shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Melaleuca bracteataRiver teatreeShrub6.0 0-0  LMHNM023
Melaleuca hypericifoliaTea TreeShrub3.0 8-11  LMHSNM023
Melaleuca leucadendraPaperbark, Weeping PaperbarkTree30.0 10-12 FLMHNM243
Melaleuca linariifoliaFlax-Leaved Paper-Bark, Cajeput treeShrub10.0 8-11  LMHNM032
Melaleuca thymifoliaThymeleaf melaleucaShrub1.0 8-11  LMHNM023
Melaleuca uncinataBroom honeymyrtleShrub2.0 0-0  LMHNDM013

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Chris   Mon Nov 14 2005

Tea Tree Oil Research Group University-based group researching tea tree oil

Lynne the Witch   Sat Aug 19 2006

Just experimenting with growing tea tree in my greenhouse in Leicestershire, England. It's doing well so far! Thanks for the info Love Lynne

   Tue Oct 3 2006

Dr. Ronald Richards 9. Alliston Gardens. Northampton. NN2 6DS. England. UK. Would be interested in receiving reports about what Tea Tree Oild and Tea Tree Extract can do for the body. Anyone interested in receieving his research report about the Enzyme Fomula which he has written and conducted himself, should write to him at the above address.

Andrew   Mon Nov 27 2006

The link below has several very useful research reports about melaleuca oil.

RMBarry Melaleuca Oil Melaleuca Oil

Andrew   Mon Nov 27 2006

Tea tree oil has been recognized as a potent antiseptic in Australia anecdotally for much longer than there has been scientific evidence. However, recent studies support a role for tea tree oil in skin care and treatment of various ailments. - From the Wiki Melaleuca Tea Tree Oil page

Melaleuca Tea Tree Oil - Wiki Encyclopedia This is the Wiki Tea Tree Oil page - another credible resource

Brewster   Wed Dec 13 2006

The applications for Melaleuca include: Cosmetics, personal care, hair care, first aid, pet care, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal products. P.S. Don't confuse the 'Melaleuca Tea Tree" with other species of melaleuca like 'Melaleuca quinquenervia' which are considered invasive in some areas.

   Thu Jan 25 2007

Melaleuca oil is the best thing that ever happened to my family and me. It is so wonderful that I don't know how I could have possibly lived with out it! It has amazing properties. First of all it is an antiseptic, plus it sooths and penetrates, its non caustic, a solvent and its aromatic. Because all of this it has amazing healing properties!!!

Andrew   Mon Nov 27 2006

The link below has several very useful research reports about melaleuca oil.

RMBarry Melaleuca Oil

Glenda Baker   Mon Jun 25 2007

I just recently learned about Melaleuca Oil and am amazed at the scope of usage for this product of nature. It now replaces many products in my house and everyday I learn some new way to use it. I lived in Australia 24 years ago and I can't believe I never heard of it while we were there. It is so awesome!!

Maida   Fri Sep 21 2007

Tree tea oil was really good for the keloid behind my ear after my 4th peircing. It cleared up in about a week. It's also really great for bug bites.

Mario Barnard   Mon Mar 24 2008

Hi I have a dog that is extremely allergic to Tea Tree Oil in all its forms, especially plants and trees. Where can I obtain information, especially pictures of all plants and trees that contain it? Regards

gail   Fri Jun 27 2008

i want to grow tea tree in portugal. anyone know where to buy seeds/plants?

george   Tue Oct 7 2008

I use tea tree oil for loads of things, the two best are as a deoderant. It is good for this as it has a strong smell itself and also kill bacteria that cause bad smells, it lasts for days sometimes. Also I use it to treat boils I just put a few drops on a plaster and put it on the boil and leave it over night and it kills all the bacteria. It's also good for spots but does tend to dry the skin so carrier oils would be best for facial application, although I don't tend to care too much, it goes away after a while and you could also just use moisturiser.

Anja Bottema   Fri Jul 17 2009

Well, is tea tree an alternative against the Mexican flu? Treatment: - put some drops of oil in a glas with water. It will clean the atmotsfere and flys don't come in your house. to be sure if this continues works. Controll the glas of water every day, fill it up with water and drops of tea tree oil - teatree lotion: helps against insects coming on your skin Use it once a day - teatree helps healing wounds, you barely can't see a scar after healing. Preventive I use teatree against the Mexican flu. But: stay healthy with lots of fruit, vegetables etc, bio-dynamic grown!! Roodborst

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