Thursday, March 23, 2017

Melaleuca, Melaleuca quinquenervia

Melaleuca, Melaleuca quinquenervia, is most easily recognized by the combination of whitish peeling bark, white bottle brush shaped inflorescence and narrow 5 veined leaves. It is an evergreen tree that reaches heights of between 50-90 feet tall.  Generally growing in an erect form with a single trunk and narrow crown that is often open and irregularly branched.  It is well established in hammocks, pine lands, disturbed woodlands and along roadsides mostly in Southern Florida and sparsely in Southeastern Louisiana. This variety originated in Australia and Melanesia.  

Image Citation (In Bloom): Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental,

Melaleuca quinquenervia is considered to be one of Florida's top three invasive species.  It covers thousands of hectares in tropical and subtropical regions.  Eradication efforts have been largely unsuccessful due to it's aggressive growth and rapid establishment.  It has even reestablished itself after forest fires that have wiped out all other growth.

Image Citation (Melaleuca Infestation):Randy Westbrooks, Invasive Plant Control, Inc.,

The leaves of the Melaleuca are alternate, simply shaped, slightly thickened and stiff.  When crushed the leaves have a resinous odor when crushed, narrowly elliptic, or oblanceolate with a evenly tapered base and tip.  The flower is bisexual with 5 tiny sepals and petals, white in color and circular shaped 2-3 mm broad, filaments are white.  They are produced closely together, sometimes interuppted, internodal clusters 5-15 cm long, giving the appearance of a bottle brush. The fruit which occurs almost year round is a roundish or square capsule that is stalkless and crowded encircling the stem between leaf nodes, seeds are brown.

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