The New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium) is an evergreen shrub that features small, prickly, needle-like leaves, which are aromatic when crushed. In the early summer, the plant spots snowy single or double white, pink, or red blossoms. These flowers are attractive to bees and other pollinators. In fact, manuka honey, a popular honey for culinary uses and alternative medicine, is produced from nectar that bees gather from this plant. Furthermore, essential oil from the plant’s leaves and various preparations of its bark also are used for medicinal purposes. New Zealand tea tree is fairly easy to grow and resistant to most pests and diseases.
Botanical Name Leptospermum Scoparium
Common Name New Zealand tea tree, broom tea tree, tea tree, manuka, manuka myrtle
Plant Type Evergreen shrub
Mature Size 6 to 10 feet in height and spread
Sun exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, medium moisture, well-draining
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time June to July
Flower colour White, pink, red
Hardiness Zones 9 to 10
Native area New Zealand, Australia
General Facts and Information
- The name of the genus Leptospermum is a Neo-Latin composite word derived from two ancient Greek words, ‘λεπτόν’, which means ‘thin’ and ‘σπέρμα’ which means ‘seed’– both of them accurately describing the thickness of the plant fruit seeds. The name of the species scoparium consists of the Latin word ‘scopa’, which means ‘thin branch or broom’, and the suffix ‘-arius’, whose neutral type is ‘-arium’ and means ‘belonging to’ or ‘what belongs to’.
- Tea Tree is a native, endemic plant of New Zealand and Australia. From there, it has spread to many subtropical climate areas thanks to the exceptional beauty and abundant flowers of many of its varieties.
- In its origin countries, where it is better known as Manuka or Kahikatoa, it is found either as a shrub or as a small tree. The abundant, small and light seeds of Tea Tree, which are dispersed with wind, enable the plant to reproduce quite easily and form large populations. Particularly in barren and relatively wet soils, the dominant form of vegetation tends to become or is actually made.
- In New Zealand, primarily but also in Australia, it often behaves as a weed, and indeed its control is a real headache for farmers. In Hawaii, where it is widely grown as ornamental, having been fully acclimatized, it shows a tendency of unwanted spread. The same is true of South Africa, where the species is listed as ‘under surveillance’.
More about Tea Tree
- The Manuka develops many shoots from the base, which are raised and show moderate density branches. To those who are fully wooded, the bark appears flaky, leaving them naked. The leaves are small, narrowly lanceolate to oval, which when crushed diffuses a pleasant aroma. The flowers are hermaphrodite (the Tea Tree belongs to the andromonoecious plants), numerous, asteromorph, white or pink with a red centre. Pollination takes place with insects, including honey bees. After the pollination of the flowers, the fruit is formed, which is a 5-celled capsule, black in colour.
- Manuka is a highly adaptive plant when it is grown in areas with similar soil and climate conditions as its natural spreading zone. In terms of temperatures, young plants can withstand up to -4 °C (25 °F), but when they grow, their strength increases remarkably, reaching almost -10 °C (14 °F). In relation to the soil, it grows in various soil types, but thrives on sandy loam, slightly acidic and dry soils. Despite the high drought resistance of fully installed plants, young plants need regular watering. As for the exposure, it grows mainly in sunny places, well sheltered by dry hot or cold winds, but in the warmer climates it can be successfully planted in semi-shade. Still worth noting is its high resistance to the aggravated atmosphere of the cities, to frost, as well as its good resistance to soil salinity and to salt-spray
- From diseases in general, it does not face serious problems, while insects, scales as well as webbing caterpillar and borers can attack the plant. With the appropriate formulations is usually successful controlled.
Tea Tree- Uses
Tea Tree, in addition to ornamental, has practical, pharmaceutical and ethnobotany value. Its wood is highly appreciated as a fuel because of the presence of oils and volatile compounds. The produced essential oil has a scope in aromatherapy, dermatopathies and also has antibiotic properties. Honey coming from the flowers of Manuka has a significant antibacterial effect. Finally, for Maori, there was a plant that used for its wood, which was utilized almost in every possible way, and as a herbal remedy in various forms and against various diseases, such as its gum that was given to the adults as cough treatment.