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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.

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).

 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
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
4Inflorescences lateral from older stems5
Inflorescences terminal, subterminal or in the upper axils
                       Back to 3
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
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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
8Leaves channelled on upper surface, convex on each side of the midveinMelaleuca biconvexa
Leaves not channelled, upper surface flat or concave
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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 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
12Leaves and calyx lobes pubescentMelaleuca glomerata
Leaves and calyx lobes glabrous or glabrescent
                       Back to 11
13Leaves with apex curved or hooked, leaves terete14
Leaves with apex straight, leaves mostly flat
                       Back to 12
Melaleuca nodosa
14Fruit cluster tightly packedMelaleuca uncinata
Fruit cluster loosely packed (‘peg-like’)
                       Back to 13
Melaleuca interioris
15Leaves flat, more than 3 cm long, petiolate, usually with 5 prominent longitudinal veinsMelaleuca quinquenervia
Leaves not as above
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16Leaves sessile, acute to acuminate, with more than 4 longitudinal veins (sometimes obscure)17
Leaves at least shortly petiolate, usually 1-veined (except Melaleuca squamea)
                       Back to 15
17Leaves 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 16
Melaleuca styphelioides
18Leaves more than 3 mm wide19
Leaves less than 3 mm wide
                       Back to 16
19Hypanthia and rachis of inflorescences more or less glabrousMelaleuca groveana
Hypanthia and rachis of inflorescences markedly hairy
                       Back to 18
20Fruit 5–7 mm diamMelaleuca deanei
Fruit 3–5 mm diam
                       Back to 19
Melaleuca sieberi
21Leaves terete, c. 0.5 mm diam.; flowers pinkMelaleuca diosmatifolia
Leaves flat or lower surface concave, c. 1–2 mm wide; flowers white to pink or purple
                       Back to 18
22Staminal claw more than 5 mm long23
Staminal claw up to 4 mm long
                       Back to 21
23Inflorescences 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 22
Melaleuca armillaris
24Young branchlets and inflorescence axes villous25
Young branchlets and inflorescence axes pubescent or tomentose
                       Back to 22
25Leaves with 3–5 longitudinal veins; flowers purple to pinkMelaleuca squamea
Leaves with only 1 vein; flowers white or pale yellow
                       Back to 24
Melaleuca capitata
26Bark papery, fibrous-papery or flaky27
Bark hard, rough or corky
                       Back to 24
27Leaves linear; staminal claw to 2 mm long28
Leaves narrow-elliptic; staminal claw 2–3.5 mm long
                       Back to 26
28Leaves 7–15 mm long; fruit 2.5–4 mm longMelaleuca ericifolia
Leaves 4–9 mm long; fruit 4–5 mm long (Lord Howe Island)
                       Back to 27
Melaleuca howeana
29Leaves with at 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 27
Melaleuca sieberi
30Leaves 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 26
Melaleuca lanceolata

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