Plants of
South Australia
Melaleuca decussata
Cross-leaf Honey-myrtle,
Cross-leaved Honey-myrtle
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4

Prior names

Melaleuca tetragona

Melaleuca parviflora, nom.illeg.

Melaleuca elegans

Melaleuca decussata var. ovoidea

Common names

Cross-leaf Honey-myrtle

Cross-leaved Honey-myrtle


Melaleuca, from the Greek 'melas', meaning black and 'leucon' ,meaning white, alluding to the contrasting colours of the bark of the first species described, which is said to have had white branches against a black trunk. Decussata, from Latin meaning shaped like an X, alluding to the outline in cross-section formed by the leaves, borne in pairs at right angles to each other.

Distribution and status

Found on the Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the lower South-east in South Australia, growing along watercourses, in swampy heathland, rocky outcrops and sandy flats. Also found in Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in Victoria.
Herbarium regions: Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Slender shrub to 3 m high; glabrous except for the very sparsely pubescent stems. Leaves decussate; linear to oblanceolate, to 15 mm long and 3 mm wide, often weakly keeled, rounded-obtuse; distinctly glandular below and obscurely 3-nerved on both surfaces. Inflorescence, a cylindrical spike to 25 mm long and 15 mm wide, with 3-9 pairs of pink to purple flowers. Flowers in spring to late summer. Fruits are grey-brown woody, inflated around the stem, flask-shaped capsule to 4 mm diameter, on leafy stems. Seeds are tiny brown ovoid to cylindrical seed to 1.2 mm long and 0.5 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. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 95%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
55,800 (11.17 g)
55,800 (11.17 g)
Southern Lofty
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.