Plants of
South Australia
Melaleuca bracteata
Myrtaceae
Black Tea-tree
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Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
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Oodnadatta
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Keith
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Etymology

Melaleuca, from the Greek 'melas', meaning black and 'leucon', meaning white, alluding to the contrasting colours of the bark. The first species described is said to have had white branches against a black trunk. Bracteata, from the Latin 'bractea' meaning a thin plate, referring to the bracts at the base of the flower.

Distribution and status

Found in the far north-west part of South Australia, with some old records from the Gammon Ranges, growing along watercourses or on heavier inland soils in depressions. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Rare in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Flinders Ranges
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Shrub or tree to 15 m high with hard, fissured bark. Leaves alternate, narrow-ovate to ovate, to 28 mm long and 3 mm wide; 5–11-veined with apex acute to acuminate, glabrous or occasionally pubescent. Flower-spike few to many, to 3.5 cm long. Flowers solitary or in threes within each bract; white. Fruits are grey-brown, papery, woody cup-shaped capsule to 2.5 mm in diameter; toothed at the rim or eventually truncate, in short spikes on slender leafy stems. Seeds are tiny brown cylindrical seed to 0.8 mm long and 0.3 mm wide. Seed embryo type is folded.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect capsules that are large and hard, with closed valves. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for at least two weeks or until all the valves are open. Then place all the capsules into a bucket with a lid if possible and shake hard to dislodge the seeds from the capsules. Use a sieve to separate the seeds from the capsules. The fine material will contain the seeds and other flowering material. It is very difficult to separate the seeds from this other material as the size, shape and weight are very similar. However the seeds will be a darker brown. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
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LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
Number
of plants
Date
collected
Collection number
Collection location
Date
stored
% ViabilityStorage
temperature
BGA 
MSB
22,500 (6.7 g)
22,500 (6.7 g)
173-Dec-2003PJA53
North Western
1-Sep-2004 +5°C, -18°C
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.