Coastal Tea Tree Doug Beckers/Flickr

Coastal Tea Tree

Leptospermum laevigatum

Did You Know?

  • Commonly known as the tea tree as early European settlers used the leaves as a tea substitute
FactBox Image

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

Also known as Australian Myrtle and Victorian Tea Tree.

A tall, bushy shrub or small tree, with bark that sheds in strips. Grows 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.

Fruits/Seeds

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.

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)

  • Open seed pods/fruits (record all days)

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When and Where

When To Look

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

Where To Look

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

What Else?

Similar Species

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