Plants of
South Australia
Melaleuca squarrosa
Myrtaceae
Scented Paper-bark
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Adelaide
Arkaroola
Ceduna
Coober Pedy
Hawker
Innamincka
Marla
Marree
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Oodnadatta
Renmark
Wudinna
Keith
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1.

Etymology

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. Squarrosa from the Latin 'squarrosus' meaning scale-like; referring to scale-like overlapping leaves.

Distribution and status

Found in the lower South-east in South Australia, with an isolated collection from Mount Compass, growing in swamps and wet heaths. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Rare in South Australia. Uncommon in New South Wales. Common in Victoria and Tasmania.
Herbarium region: South Eastern
NRM region: South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Shrub or tree to 12 m high with papery bark and hairy young shoots and persistently woody stems. Leaves decussate, ovate, to 10 mm long and 7 mm wide acute, distinctly 5-7-nerved, scattered-glandular below, truncate to cordate at the base. Inflorescence in terminal spike with 5-10 pairs of white to yellowish flowers. Flowers in late spring and summer. Fruits are grey-brown, wrinkled round woody capsule to 4 mm, in dense spikes on woody stems. Seeds are dark brown ovoid seed to 1.2 mm long and 0.6 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 96%. 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
16,700 (4.35 g)
16,700 (4.35 g)
4020-Jan-2005MKJ68
South Eastern
31-Mar-200696%-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.