Plants of
South Australia
Melaleuca squamea
Scaly-barked Honey-myrtle,
Swamp Honey-myrtle,
Heath Honey-myrtle
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Melaleuca squamea var. glabra

Melaleuca ottonis

Common names

Scaly-barked Honey-myrtle

Swamp Honey-myrtle

Heath 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. Squamea, from the Latin 'squama,' meaning with scales, scaly, referring to the the scaly bark or fruit.

Distribution and status

Found on Kangaroo Island, Fleurieu Peninsula and the lower South-east in South Australia growing in swamp and heath scrub on wet ground. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Uncommon in New South Wales and Victoria. Common in Tasmania.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Shrub or small tree 6 m high, with corky bark; glabrous except for young shoots with white hairs. Leaves alternate, narrowly ovate, to 8 mm long and 3 mm wide, acuminate-acute and inflexed at the apex; obscurely 3-nerved and punctate-glandular below. Inflorescence a terminal globular head to 15 mm wide, generally wider than long, with 4�9 pink to purple flowers. Flowers in spring. Fruits are grey-brown scaly spherical capsule to 6 mm diameter; truncate, slightly compressed; in globular clusters on leafy or woody stems. Seeds are dark brown ovoid or pyramidal-shaped seed to 1.2 mm long and 0.7 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 100%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
41,100 (5.5 g)
41,100 (5.5 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.