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Genus Melaleuca Family Myrtaceae

Description: Shrubs or trees.

Leaves opposite, alternate or irregularly arranged, sometimes with 3 or more prominent longitudinal veins; petiolate or sessile.

Inflorescences terminal or axillary, spike- or head-like, the terminal bud usually growing on, occasionally aborting. Flowers 5-merous, white, yellowish, pink, red or mauve. Sepals small, triangular to semicircular. Petals free. Stamens numerous, fused into bundles opposite the petals; anthers dorsifixed, versatile. Ovary half-inferior, 3-locular, with several to many erect ovules in each loculus; style filiform, stigma simple or capitate.

Fruit a loculicidal capsule, only rarely exserted from the fruiting hypanthium; seeds linear.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 220 spp., Aust., N.G., Malesia. Aust.: c. 215 spp. (c. 210 spp. endemic), all States.

Refs Byrnes (1984, 1985, 1986); Barlow (1987).

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Melaleuca howeana,    Melaleuca interioris

 Key to the species 
1Leaves usually less than 4 mm long, sessile, appressedMelaleuca irbyana
Leaves mostly more than 5 mm long, petiolate or sessile2
2Leaves opposite or more or less opposite3
Leaves scattered, alternate or irregularly arranged (including irregularly whorled)
                       Back to 1
11
3Flowers red; staminal bundles more than 20 mm longMelaleuca hypericifolia
Flowers mauve, pink, white or yellowish; staminal bundles less than 20 mm long
                       Back to 2
4
4Inflorescences lateral from older stems5
Inflorescences terminal, subterminal or in the upper axils
                       Back to 3
6
5Flowers white (sometimes tinged with pink), in few-flowered clustersMelaleuca acuminata
Flowers pink to deep mauve, in short spikes
                       Back to 4
Melaleuca thymifolia
6Stamens with claw usually less than 3 mm long, each bundle consisting of up to 20 stamens7
Stamens with claw usually more than 4 mm long, each bundle with more than 30 stamens
                       Back to 4
10
7Leaves with 5–7 longitudinal veins, ovate to broad-ovateMelaleuca squarrosa
Leaves with 3 longitudinal veins, sometimes obscurely so, linear to broad-ovate
                       Back to 6
8
8Leaves channelled on upper surface, convex on each side of the midveinMelaleuca biconvexa
Leaves not channelled, upper surface flat or concave
                       Back to 7
9
9Leaves ovate, at least 2 mm wide; inflorescences a few-flowered spikes or heads, less than 1 cm longMelaleuca tortifolia
Leaves linear to narrow-ovate, less than 2 mm wide; inflorescences many-flowered spikes, more than 2 cm long
                       Back to 8
Melaleuca densispicata
10Staminal claws 8–15 mm long; fruit with included valvesMelaleuca linariifolia
Staminal claws 4–8 mm long; fruit usually with exserted valves
                       Back to 6
Melaleuca trichostachya
11Fruit in tight globose or ellipsoidal clusters; flowers in globose heads or short spikes12
Fruit scattered or in cylindrical groups; flowers in spikes or terminal clusters
                       Back to 2
14
12Leaves and calyx lobes pubescentMelaleuca glomerata
Leaves and calyx lobes glabrous or glabrescent
                       Back to 11
13
13Leaves with apex curved or hooked, leaves tereteMelaleuca uncinata
Leaves with apex straight, leaves mostly flat
                       Back to 12
Melaleuca nodosa
14Leaves flat, more than 3 cm long, petiolate, usually with 5 prominent longitudinal veinsMelaleuca quinquenervia
Leaves not as above
                       Back to 11
15
15Leaves sessile, acute to acuminate, with more than 4 longitudinal veins (sometimes obscure)16
Leaves at least shortly petiolate, usually 1-veined (except Melaleuca squamea)
                       Back to 14
17
16Leaves narrow-ovate to ovate, 1–3 mm wide, with 5–11 longitudinal veins; bark hardMelaleuca bracteata
Leaves ovate to broad-ovate, 2–6 mm wide, with more than 11 longitudinal veins; bark papery
                       Back to 15
Melaleuca styphelioides
17Leaves more than 3 mm wide18
Leaves less than 3 mm wide
                       Back to 15
20
18Hypanthia and rachis of inflorescences more or less glabrousMelaleuca groveana
Hypanthia and rachis of inflorescences markedly hairy
                       Back to 17
19
19Fruit 5–7 mm diamMelaleuca deanei
Fruit 3–5 mm diam
                       Back to 18
Melaleuca sieberi
20Leaves terete, c. 0.5 mm diam.; flowers pinkMelaleuca erubescens
Leaves flat or lower surface concave, c. 1–2 mm wide; flowers white to pink or purple
                       Back to 17
21
21Staminal claw more than 5 mm long22
Staminal claw up to 4 mm long
                       Back to 20
23
22Inflorescences terminal or axillary, borne at the ends of branchlets; bark paperyMelaleuca alternifolia
Inflorescences axillary, borne low on the branchlets; bark corky or hard
                       Back to 21
Melaleuca armillaris
23Young branchlets and inflorescences with villous rachis24
Young branchlets and inflorescences with pubescent rachis
                       Back to 21
25
24Leaves with 3–5 longitudinal veins; flowers purple to pinkMelaleuca squamea
Leaves with only 1 vein; flowers white or pale yellow
                       Back to 23
Melaleuca capitata
25Bark papery or fibrous-papery26
Bark hard, rough or corky
                       Back to 23
28
26Leaves linear; staminal claw to 2 mm longMelaleuca ericifolia
Leaves narrow-elliptic; staminal claw 2–3.5 mm long
                       Back to 25
27
27Leaves with ar least 1 conspicuous vein; stamens 20–40 per bundle; sepals not persistent in fruitMelaleuca decora
Leaves with 1 obscure vein; stamens 11–25 per bundle; sepals more or less persistent in fruit
                       Back to 26
Melaleuca sieberi
28Leaves linear; stamens 4–7 per bundle; fruit 2–4 mm diam. ; leaves with raised oil glandsMelaleuca parvistaminea
Leaves linear to narrow-elliptic; stamens 8–14 per bundle; fruit 4–5 mm diam.; leaves with small oil glands
                       Back to 25
Melaleuca lanceolata

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