Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Leptospermum polygalifolium
Salisb., Myrtaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Other Latin names:  Leptospermum flavescens Sm.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: tea tree

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Shrub, often from 0.5 to 3 m in height, or slender to stout-trunked tree to 7 m or more, the bark usually close and firm but soft, thick and rather flaky in some arborescent forms; the younger stems at first with a short close pubescence but usually becoming glabrous, with a conspicuous flange, usually broad and often thick, especially near the node, and spreading or tending to curve around the stem, and with branching at from less than 30° to more than 60°. Leaves sometimes aromatic, but not strongly so, usually somewhat divergent to spreading or occasionally deflexed, from less than 5 to more than 20 mm long and 1-5, usually 2-3, mm wide, oblanceolate-elliptical to narrowly linear-elliptical, variable in texture, flat or with the margins recurved, usually glabrous or almost so, the apex broadly to narrowly acute or obtuse, the tip often recurved, with an umbo behind or with a short soft or stiff blunt point or occasionally a short pungent point, the base tapering and petioleless or virtually so. Flowers white, often greenish or creamy-white, or occasionally pink, usually 10-15 mm in diameter, occurring singly on modified shoots at the ends of very short or long leafy axillary branches, often in adjacent axils and on adjacent branches with the new growth extending, mostly from branch-ends during or after flowering. Bracts broad, almost spherical, dark red-brown and scarious; the bracteoles similar, some often persisting to the opening bud stage but sometimes shed early. Hypanthium usually glabrous and often rather dark with somewhat conspicuous glands, usually 2-4 mm long, the upper part expanded, the lower tapering to the base or tapering to, or rounded above, a pedicel often to c. 1 mm in length, the top of the ovary glabrous. Sepals deciduous, 1.5-2.5 mm long, usually broadly ovate-oblong, obtuse, glabrous or with minutely ciliate margins, scarious and pale at least at the margins. Petals 4-6 mm long. Stamens in bundles of 5-7 (-9), (2-) 2.5-4 (-4.5) mm long, the filaments broad in the lower part and tending to join at the extreme base, the anther-cells 0.4-0.5 mm long, usually well separated and often tending to diverge, very deep and with their opening restricted. Style inset, stout-based and tapering to a variable-sized stigma; sometimes absent. Ovary 5-locular (rarely and ? aberrantly less or more so), each loculus with (20-) 80-100 ovules in (4-) 8 rows on a large close, or occasionally smaller and extended, placenta; sometimes absent. Fruit persistent but not long-persistent and enlarging, 5-8 (-c. 10) mm in diameter, widest at a narrowly extended rim and usually rounded below to the base or to a short stalk, the valves exserted, before opening with a high or broad dome rather symmetrical with the almost spherical to broad and shallow wide part of the fruit, later often but not always opening so wide as to exceed the rim and reduced the depth of the base. Mature seeds 1.5-2.5 (-3) mm long, irregularly narrowly linear-cuneiform, curved, and striate with the surface fibres tending to loosen and diverge" (Thompson, 1989; pp. 396-397).

"Large shrubs or small trees to 4-7 m tall. Leaves linear, 8-15 mm long, 1.5-3 mm wide, glabrous, conspicuously glandular-dotted, apex mucronate. Sepals yellowish, deltate, ca. 2-2.5 mm long, apex acute; petals pale yellow, ca. 5-6 mm long, glandular-dotted externally. Capsules usually 5-valved, ca. 6-8 mm in diameter, exserted ca. 1/2 from hypanthium" (Wagner et al., 1999; p. 961).

Habitat/ecology:  "Usually in sandy soil or on sandstone rocks but sometimes on basalt soils and rocks" [Australia] (Thompson, 1989; pp. 396-397).

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  Northeastern Australia (GRIN).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Pacific offshore islands)
Norfolk Islands
Norfolk Island native
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1994) (p. 20)
Subsp. howense Joy Thomps. Vouchers cited: J. Pickard 3540 (NSW), C. Moore 53 (K, MEL), J. Pickard 1452 (NSW), J.P. Fullagar 53 (MEL), P.S. Green 1658 (A, K)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 961, 963)
Voucher cited: MacDaniels 402 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Herbarium Pacificum Staff (1999) (p. 6)
Vouchers cited: A.F. Judd, E.H. Bryan, Jr. & M.C. Neal s.n. (BISH 60013), P. Rankin s.n. (BISH 427657), L.H. McDaniels 402 (BISH), F.E. Egler 37-47 (BISH), D. Herbst 645 (BISH)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands   Merrill, Elmer D. (1923) (p. 184)
Generally on exposed ridges in the mossy forest, altitude 1,000 to 2,700 m.
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
New South Wales native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Singapore
Singapore
Singapore (Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Chong, Kwek Yan/Tan, Hugh T. W./Corlett, Richard T. (2009) (p. 54)
Cultivated only


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This page was created on 17 JAN 2004 and was last updated on 18 MAY 2013.