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Genus Leptospermum Family Myrtaceae

Description: Shrubs or trees, with smooth, fibrous or papery bark.

Leaves alternate, usually small and ± rigid, margins entire; often aromatic when crushed, occasionally lemon-scented; sessile to shortly petiolate.

Flowers solitary or in clusters of 2–several; sessile in axils of bracts on condensed shoots. Flowers 5-merous. Hypanthium obtuse or tapered at the base. Sepals imbricate, sometimes persistent. Petals spreading, white, pink or red, not persistent. Stamens numerous, usually shorter than petals, in 5 bundles opposite the petals but appearing free; anthers opening by slits, with a gland near the connective. Ovary mostly 3–5-locular; placentation axile and usually just above the middle of the central axis; ovules few to numerous; style simple, usually with the base inset; stigma entire or ± lobed.

Fruit a rigid or woody capsule, usually 3–5-valved; seeds ± ovoid, reticulate and occasionally ridged or winged, or irregularly linear and striate.

L. Elkan

Photo D. Hardin

Distribution and occurrence: World: 79 species, South-East Asia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand. Australia: 77 species (75 species endemic), all States.

Key edited by Peter G. Wilson and Kerry Gibbons 21 Jul. 2020. Please let us know via the 'contact us' link on the green banner above if you notice any problems with this revised key.

Text by J. Thompson & V. Logan
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Fruit either not woody or if ± woody then the valves not woody; usually shed soon or at most before the following season; seeds ovoid-cuneiform with the surface reticulate3
Fruit woody, woody-valved and usually persisting beyond the following season; seeds irregularly linear or linear-cuneiform with the surface longitudinally striate2
2Sepals developing a line of dehiscence and falling, though tardily so in a few species; stem flanges present or absent21
Sepals persistent; stem flanges absent
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3Flowers on the flowering shoot >2; pedicels <2mm long; fruit always 3-locular4
Flowers on the flowering shoot usually 1(–2), pedicels >2 mm long; fruit 3- or variably 3–5(or more)-locular
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4Leaves usually <5 mm wide, tapering to a narrow base5
Leaves usually 5–10 mm wide, broad-based
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Leptospermum speciosum
5Hypanthium glabrous or almost so; stem flanges present6
Hypanthium hairy, pubescent or silky; stem flanges absent
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Leptospermum whitei
6Leaves 20–50 mm long, apex acute to acuminate; new growth silky-hairyLeptospermum brachyandrum
Leaves to 25 mm long, apex obtuse or mucronate; new growth sparsely hairy
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Leptospermum benwellii
7Fruit loculi usually >5; many seeds winged8
Fruit loculi 5 or less; seeds not winged
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8Leaves light yellowish green, usually 10–20 mm long and 3–5 mm wide, obtuse, acute or acuminate; fruit usually 4–7-locularLeptospermum coriaceum
Leaves usually grey-green, 15–30 mm long, 5–8 mm wide, and broadly obtuse; fruit usually 6–11-locular
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Leptospermum laevigatum
9Sepals very short-triangular, c. 0.5 mm long; leaves 5–10 mm long and 1–3 mm wide with the apex tending to recurveLeptospermum myrsinoides
Sepals, if triangular, ≥1 mm long; leaves various
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10Fruit succulent (coarsely wrinkled when dry); hypanthium silky with the upper part spreading widely and often glabrous; leaves mostly 5–10 mm long, 1.5–2.5 mm wide and thickLeptospermum semibaccatum
Fruit not succulent; hypanthium variously hairy or glabrous; leaves various
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11Fruit with the placenta low and the valves extended upward; leaves to c. 8 mm long, thick, obtuse and petiolateLeptospermum parvifolium
Fruit not as above; leaves if <10 mm not thick, obtuse and petiolate
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12Bark in many flaky layers even on leafy branches13
Bark compact, fibrous, smooth or ultimately flaking but not in many flaky layers
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13Hypanthium densely pubescent with spreading or short hairs (variable according to the population), rarely glabrous, upper part of the hypanthium not incurved; leaves mostly 10–20 mm long, 1–6 mm wide (breadth often uniform within the population)Leptospermum trinervium
Hypanthium glabrous or densely silky at base, the upper part incurved over the edge of the fruit; leaves usually 15–25 mm long and 3–7 mm wide
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Leptospermum subglabratum
14Hypanthium mostly glabrous but sometimes silky at the base; filaments often with spreading hairs15
Hypanthium variously hairy, sometimes with the upper part glabrescent; filaments glabrous
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15Hypanthium turgid; leaves mostly elliptic, 10–25 mm long, 2–4 mm wide and petiolateLeptospermum polyanthum
Hypanthium thin; leaves narrow-elliptic to oblanceolate, 10–15 mm long and 1–2 mm wide, sessile
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Leptospermum deanei
16Apex of leaves with a conspicuous pungent point, the leaves subtending the flowering shoots infolded or incurved, and reflexed17
Apex of leaves obtuse or acute but if somewhat pointed not conspicuously so and with the leaves subtending the flowering shoots not infolded, incurved and reflexed
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17Sepals somewhat acute and triangular; fruit usually 3-locularLeptospermum divaricatum
Sepals obtuse, oblong or semicircular; fruit mostly 4-locular
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Leptospermum microcarpum
18Leaf bud of flowering shoots developing prematurely so that flowers are found at the base of shoots or even branched shoots, the branching at c. 60°19
Leaf bud of flowering shoots developing with or shortly after the flowers; the branching <40°
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19Pedicels >5 mm long; leaves silky only on base and margins; in the Lithgow area, CTLeptospermum blakelyi
Pedicels c. 1 mm long; leaves usually silvery silky on both surfaces; confined to the Scabby Ra., ST
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Leptospermum namadgiense
20Fruit 3-locular, style base scarcely inset, pedicel c. 1 mm long; leaves <10 mm long, 1–3 mm wide, apex usually acute to acuminateLeptospermum multicaule
Fruit usually 5-locular, style inset, pedicel 2–10 mm long; leaves mostly >10 mm long, usually 2–5 mm wide, apex obtuse to short-acuminate
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Leptospermum brevipes
21Hypanthium with a tapered base and pedicel often 3–4 mm long; leaves usually 20–30 mm long and 3–7 mm wide, apex retuseLeptospermum emarginatum
Hypanthium base broad or if narrowed pedicel c. 1 mm long; leaves various
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22Leaves incurved in cross section and pungent-pointed; style stout and straight-sided with a characteristic relatively large flat stigma23
Leaves not both incurved and pungent-pointed, or if so then style tapering and stigma not relatively large
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23Leaves mostly spreading24
Leaves erect and rather dense, giving a broom-like appearance to the plant
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24Flowers usually c. 10 mm diam., usually white; produced on new growth; hypanthium tapering near base25
Flowers variable, usually 10–20 mm diam., sometimes shorter or longer, often pink; produced on short shoots from older branches; hypanthium rounded at base
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Leptospermum squarrosum
25Most leaves >3 mm wide, broadest below the middle and tapering above and below; fruit 6–9 mm diam.Leptospermum scoparium
Most leaves <3 mm wide, broadest at base and tapering upward; fruit 5–7 mm diam.
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Leptospermum continentale
26Short and robust shrubs with flowers 10–12 mm diam.; fruit 6–10 mm diam.Leptospermum rupicola
Tall slender shrubs with flowers 6–10 mm diam.; fruit rarely >7 mm diam.
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Leptospermum juniperinum
27Anther loculi long and not opening wide28
Anther loculi broader than long when open, and opening wide
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28Flowers c. 8 mm diam.; stamens longer than the short petals; leaves dense, obovate and thick, mostly 2–4 mm long, glossyLeptospermum minutifolium
Flowers c. 10 mm or more diam.; stamens shorter than the petals; leaves various but usually >5 mm long and not glossy
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29Bark lifting and flaking; leaves variable but often thick with the surface at least somewhat (often strongly so), incurved in cross section, the apex tapering, acute or acuminate, usually pungent; anther loculi usually parallelLeptospermum novae-angliae
Bark fibrous and ± compact; leaves flat or with the margins somewhat recurved, the apex broad- to narrow-acute or blunt or bluntly rounded, rarely pungent-pointed; anther loculi usually divergent
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30Flowers usually c. 15 mm diam.; leaves mostly 15–35 mm long and 2–8 mm wide, usually with 3 conspicuous longitudinal veins and aromaticLeptospermum morrisonii
Flowers usually c. 10 mm diam.; leaves various but rarely >20 mm long and usually 2–3 mm wide, neither conspicuously 3-veined nor aromatic
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Leptospermum polygalifolium
31Fruit much broader than long, with a wide woody rim; leaves dense, usually 5–7 mm long and 1–2 mm wide, lemon-scentedLeptospermum liversidgei
Fruit and leaves not as above
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32Bark loosely fibrous, `stringy'; leaves narrow-elliptic to lanceolate, 20–40 mm long and 2–5 mm wide, acute, rounded or retuse and often lemon-scentedLeptospermum petersonii
Bark various; leaves various, never lemon-scented
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33Leaves, at least most of them, with a distinct though often short petiole, the apex usually broad, the size and shape various, glabrous or pubescent34
Leaves sessile, tapering to the apex, 10–20 mm long, 2–8 mm wide, obovate to oblanceolate to elliptic, glabrous
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34Stamens 4–6 mm long; flowers often pink, usually 20–30 mm diam.; leaves mostly ± circularLeptospermum rotundifolium
Stamens <3.5 mm long; flowers white or almost so, ≤15 mm diam.; leaf shape various
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35Sepals glabrous or with ciliate margins; leaves green and glabrous at least for the most part36
Sepals pubescent, at least in part; leaves grey-green and pubescent or ultimately green and glabrous, the young growth grey with a silvery pubescence
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36Stems branching at c. 30°; leaves narrow-oblanceolate to very broad-obovate, apex usually retuse; fruit rounded above a short stalkLeptospermum obovatum
Stems branching at 60° or more; leaves obovate to almost circular, apex usually broadly rounded; fruit base rounded or turbinate
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Leptospermum micromyrtus
37Fruit almost globose before opening; stem flanges inconspicuous; leaves mostly obovate, 5–10 mm long and 2–5 mm wideLeptospermum myrtifolium
Fruit broader than long; stem flanges conspicuous; leaves mostly obovate to oblanceolate or broad-obovate to elliptic
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38Hypanthium conspicuously flared in the upper part; leaves very broad-obovate to elliptic, ultimately glabrous but greyish silky on young growthLeptospermum argenteum
Hypanthium not conspicuously flared in the upper part; leaves obovate to oblanceolate, pubescence of young growth soon giving way to short irregular hairs
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Leptospermum gregarium
39Stamens c. 2 mm long, style base arising from the surface of the fruit top; leaves thick, with dense prominent glandsLeptospermum sejunctum
Stamens 3–4 mm long; style base inset in the fruit top; leaf texture variable
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Leptospermum variabile
40Stamens only about half as long as the petals or shorter; seed ≤3 mm long41
All stamens more than half as long as the petals; seeds ≥3.5 mm long
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41Fruit valves (at opening) not conspicuously exserted42
Fruit valves conspicuously exserted
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42Branches at angles of 60–90°; sepals triangular; leaves incurved from the margins, usually 10–20 mm long and mostly 1–3 mm wide (breadth variable but often uniform within the population), and with a long-tapering pungent-pointed apexLeptospermum arachnoides
Branches at angles of c. 30°; sepals short with the apex broadly rounded; leaves usually flat or with the margins recurved, 10–15 mm long, 4–6 mm wide, the apex blunt or shortly pungent
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Leptospermum thompsonii
43Leaves not glossy on both surfaces; if glossy on the upper surface, dull or pubescent below44
Leaves glossy on both surfaces
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44Fruit with a distinct short stalk, surface of the valves firm and wrinkled; leaves variable, to 30 mm long, c. 6 mm wide, elliptic, with margins recurved and a densely pubescent lower surfaceLeptospermum deuense
Fruit sessile, the valve surface lifting and ± flaky; leaves various
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45Bark compact; leaves broadest near, and contracting at, the apex; from 3–15 mm long and usually 2–4 mm wide, usually grey-green, narrow and pubescent on both surfacesLeptospermum lanigerum
Bark peeling; leaves broadest near the middle or if near the apex then tapering to the apex, not grey-green, often broad with the upper surface glossy and the lower shortly pubescent, or narrow, equal sided and glabrous, or with other combinations of these characters
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Leptospermum grandifolium
46Apex of leaves acute and pungent; leaves variable in size but usually c. 15 mm long and 5–6 mm wideLeptospermum petraeum
Apex of leaves not pungent, obtuse to acute; leaves 2–8 mm long, 2–4 mm wide
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47Leaves mostly 5–8 mm long, sometimes 5 mm or less, and 3–4 mm wide, apex ± acute; flowers c. 20 mm diam.Leptospermum crassifolium
Leaves 2–3 mm long and c. 2 mm wide, apex obtuse; flowers c. 10 mm diam.
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Leptospermum epacridoideum
48Fruit as long as broad, <15 mm diam.; leaves 5–35 mm long, broad- to narrow-elliptic and 2–5 mm wide, apex acute to acuminate49
Fruit broader than long, often 15–20 mm diam.; leaves mostly 10–20 mm long and 5–10 mm wide, usually broad-elliptic, apex obtuse or acute with a short stiff point
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Leptospermum macrocarpum
49Leaves mostly 5–20 mm long, 2–5 mm wide, broad- to narrow-elliptic, apex acute or long-acute and pungent; flowers white or pinkLeptospermum sphaerocarpum
Leaves mostly 20–35 mm long, 3–5 mm wide, narrow-elliptic, apex long-acute or long-acuminate and stiffly pointed; flowers red
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Leptospermum spectabile

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