ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 195 Photo by Avis Boutell
  2. 195_0 Photo by Greg Miles
  3. 195_1 Leaves photo by Jim Harding
  4. 195_2 Seeds photo by John Tann
  5. 195_3 Photo by Tatiana Gerus

Coastal Tea Tree, Australian Myrtle, Victorian Tea Tree

Leptospermum laevigatum

Appearance

  • A tall, bushy shrub or small tree, with bark that sheds in strips.
  • Size: up to 6 m tall.
  • Leaves: grey-green and obovate (egg-shaped and flat, with the narrow end attached to the stalk). They are 1.5 – 3 cm long and 5 – 8 mm wide.
  • Flowers: white and usually in groups of two. The flower heads are usually 1.5 – 2 cm in diameter, and made up of five petals that are 5 – 8 mm long, with many stamens protruding from the centre that are 2 mm long.
  • Fruit/seed: fruit in the form of woody capsules which are flat-topped and 15 – 20 mm in diameter. They have fleshy outer surfaces and contain many seeds which are winged to facilitate wind dispersion. 

What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower
  • Full flowering (record all days)
  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)
  • Open seed pods / fruits (record all days)

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect plants to start shooting and flowering earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas, as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

  • From late winter through spring
  • Flowers appear from August to October
  • Fruits appear after flowers 

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout from July!

Where To Look

  • In coastal heath and occasionally dry forest, on sand, dunes and coastal cliffs.
  • In coastal areas from Nambucca Heads on the New South Wales north coast, south through Victoria and into northern Tasmania. It has also become naturalised and is an environmental weed in south-east Queensland, north-east New South Wales, south-east South Australia, and southern Western Australia, where it has been used for dune stabilisation or planted after sand mining.
  • Look on coastal dunes and cliffs, particularly around Sydney.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions!

 

Coastal Tea Tree Occurrence Map ALA

References

Burrell JP 1969. The invasion of coastal heathland by Leptospermum laevigatum (J. Gaertn.) F. Muell. Australian Journal of Botany, 29: 747-764.

Navie S & Adkins S 2008. Environmental Weeds of Australia, An interactive identification and information resource for over 1000 invasive plants. Centre for Biological Information Technology, The University of Queensland.

Walther G, Post E, Convey P, Menzel A, Parmesan C, Beebee TJC, Fromentin J, Hoegh-Guldberg O, and Bairlein F 2002. Ecological responses to recent climate change. Nature 416: 389–395.

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  1. What Else?

    Another species of Leptospermum: won’t have the same flower and fruit characters.

  1. Did You Know?

    Its genus name Leptospermum is from the Greek words leptos (thin) and sperma (seed), referring to its small seeds; and its species name laevigatum is from the Latin word laevigatus (smooth), probably referring to the appearance of the plant.

    It is commonly known as the tea tree as early European settlers used the leaves of some species in this genus as a tea substitute.