Melaleuca quinquenervia: Broad-leaved Paperbark

Discover the majestic Broad-leaved Paperbark, a native Australian tree known for its striking appearance and ecological benefits.

A staple in many Australian gardens, the Melaleuca quinquenervia is celebrated for its distinctive, peeling bark and bottlebrush-like flowers. As a member of the Myrtaceae family, this tree not only offers visual appeal but also environmental benefits, making it a favoured choice among garden enthusiasts.

Its evergreen nature ensures a year-round display of green, while the aromatic leaves add another dimension to the sensory garden experience. Dive in to learn more about this remarkable plant and how it can enhance your garden.

Family and Subfamily: MyrtaceaeMyrtoideae

Belonging to the Myrtaceae family, the Broad-leaved Paperbark is related to around 5,000 other flowering species, most of which are evergreen shrubs or trees. Common traits of this family include aromatic oils in their leaves and the ability to thrive even in nutrient-poor soils.

Specifically, Melaleuca quinquenervia is a proud member of the Myrtoideae subfamily, where many of its relatives boast showy flowers and prefer well-drained soils.

Melaleuca quinquenervia: Basic Information:

  • Common Name: Broad-leaved Paperbark Tree
  • Scientific Name: Melaleuca quinquenervia
  • Origin: Australia
  • Plant Type: Medium-sized tree
  • Size: 10-20 metres in height and 5-10 metres in width
  • Leaf Type: Broad, lance-shaped, evergreen
  • Flower Colour: Creamy-white


Melaleuca quinquenervia flower | Plant Profiles

The Broad-leaved Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia) is an upright tree with a spreading growth habit. Its papery bark, which peels off in layers, is perhaps its most distinctive feature.

The broad, lance-shaped leaves remain green all year and offer a pleasant contrast to the creamy-white flowers that bloom in summer. Following the flowering period, small woody capsules containing tiny seeds develop, adding to the tree’s visual appeal.

Natural Habitat:

Melaleuca quinquenervia is naturally found along the coastal areas of eastern and northern Australia. They typically thrive in wetlands, swamps, and along riverbanks.

How to Grow Melaleuca quinquenervia:

Melaleuca quinquenervia plant | Plant Profiles

Growing this tree can introduce a touch of native Australian flora to your garden. While it is a common sight in its natural habitats, it also suits some domestic gardens due to its unique appearance and minimal maintenance needs.

Growing Conditions:

  • Soil: Well-drained, ranging from sandy to clay, with a pH of 6.0-7.0
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Climate: Adaptable, prefers cool to tropical climates

Planting Guide:

  • Timing: Spring or early summer
  • Spacing: 5-10 metres apart

Care and Maintenance:

  • Watering: Regular, especially during dry spells
  • Pruning: Annually, in late winter or early spring
  • Mulching: Organic, replenish yearly
  • Feeding: Minimal, avoid high phosphorus fertilisers

Pest and Disease Control:

  • Issues: Scale insects, leaf spot, powdery mildew. Consider regional variations, as different areas might experience different common pests and diseases for the same species.
  • Solutions: Prune affected branches, apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap, and improve air circulation.

Special Features:

The Broad-leaved Paperbark is not just about looks. Its aromatic leaves and unique peeling bark make it stand out in any garden setting.

Wildlife and Pollinators:

This tree is a haven for local wildlife. Birds, bees, and butterflies are especially drawn to the Broad-leaved Paperbark, making it an ecological asset in the garden.

Uses in the Garden and Beyond:

  • Culinary Uses: Certain Melaleuca species have leaves used for tea or culinary infusions. Always ensure that any specific species is safe for consumption before use.
  • Medicinal Uses: Traditionally used by Indigenous Australians for various medicinal purposes.
  • Environmental Benefits: Drought tolerant and can help stabilise soil in wetland areas.

Melaleuca quinquenervia FAQ:

How often should I water my Melaleuca quinquenervia?

Regular watering is ideal, especially during dry periods. However, ensure you don’t overwater to prevent waterlogging.

Can Melaleuca quinquenervia be grown in pots?

It’s best grown in the ground given its potential size, but younger trees can be potted temporarily.

Photo of author

Linda Jones

Based in sunny Brisbane, Linda has a keen interest in ornamental plants. She firmly believes that gardens are as much about aesthetics as they are about functionality. Despite being a life-long gardener, she still enjoys learning about new plants and gardening techniques and sharing her discoveries with the Ultimate Backyard community. When she's not immersed in her garden, Linda loves reading and walking.


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