Broad-leaf Paperbark

Broad-leaf Paperbark

Melaleuca quinquenervia

Did You Know?

  • Can live for over 100 years
  • Leaves are extremely oily and smell strongly when crushed
  • Its flowers are a rich source of nectar for fruit bats, insects and birds, such as scaly-breasted lorikeet and grey-headed flying-fox
  • Resprouts vigorously from epicormic shoots (dormant bud on the trunk or a limb) after bushfire; recorded flowering within weeks of being burnt
FactBox Image

Spreading small to medium-sized tree with trunk covered by white, beige and grey thick papery bark.

Usually grows to 8 – 15 m high (sometimes 25 m) with a spread of 5–10 m.

Leaves

Grey-green leaves are egg-shaped. Young growth hairy with long and short, soft hairs. Leaves arranged alternately; flat, leathery, 55 – 120 mm long, 10 – 31 mm wide.

Flowers

Flowers cream or white bottlebrush-like, arranged in spikes on ends of branches which continue to grow after flowering. Spikes contain 5 to 18 groups of flowers in threes, up to 40 mm in diameter and 20 – 50 mm long. Petals 3 mm long and fall off as flower ages. Stamens (male organ of a flower, consisting of a stalk and a pollen-bearing portion) white, cream-coloured or greenish and arranged in 5 bundles around the flower, 5 - 10 stamens per bundle.

Fruits/Seeds

Flowering is followed by fruit which are woody, broadly cylindrical capsules, 2.5 – 4 mm long and clustered, spike-like along branches.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • First fully open single flower

  • Full flowering (record all days)

  • End of flowering (when 95% of the flowers have faded)

  • No flowering

  • Fruiting

Climate Adaptations

Climate change will directly affect the ecological communities in which this alpine species resides. An increase in temperature and extreme heat events will reduce viable habitat for this species.

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

  • Flowering late spring to early autumn (September to March)
  • Flowering is followed by fruit; each capsule contains many tiny seeds which are released annually

Where To Look

  • Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, NSW, Victoria
  • Look in swamps, on floodplains and near rivers and estuaries, on silty soil
  • Often used as a street tree or planted in public parks and gardens
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Similar Species

M. viridiflora is commonly found in woodlands and in monsoonal areas, mostly in northern Australia. This species flowers at any time, but more prolifically in Winter. The flowers come in cream, yellow, green or red.

M. viminalea is endemic (natural distribution restricted to a region) to Western Australia. It flowers from July to November, smell described as 'sickly'.

M. decora is found in Queensland and NSW. It flowers from November through to January. The fruit are well-spaced along the stems.

M. armillaris is found in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory and NSW. This species flowers spring to early summer, ranging from white to pink. It usually forms a large shrub or small weeping tree that grows to a max of 8 m.