Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Melaleuca - Melaleuca quinquenervia

Melaleuca - Melaleuca quinquenervia is an evergreen tree that reaches heights of 60- 100 feet tall and is best recognized by the combination of whitish/gray peeling bark, white bottle brush like inflorescence and narrow 5 veined leaves. It grows in an erect upright fashion with an open irregularly branched crown. Originally introduced from Australia and Melanesia, it is now well established in hammocks, pine lands, disturbed woodlands and along roadsides in Florida and SE Louisiana.

Image Citation: Amy Ferriter, State of Idaho, Bugwood.org

The bark is soft, whitish, papery and peels in large curled plates that reveal a lower pink fibrous layer. The leaves are alternate, simple, slightly thick and stiff. The leaves have a foul odor when crushed. The leaves are lanceolate, narrowly elliptic, sharply pointed, and oblanceolate. The upper leaf surface is a gray-green in color with 3-7 longitudinal veins, the lower surface is paler and finely haired. The flower is white, bisexual, 5 sepals, 5 petals in a circular shape. The fruit is a round to square capsule that is 6 mm in diameter, the capsule is stalkless, crowded and encircle the stem between leaf nodes.

Image Citation: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Image Citation: Tony Pernas, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org

Of the 280 species of Melaleuca only 4 are naturalized in the United States, all in the East / Southeast. Melaleuca quinquenervia is among the top three on Florida's invasive species list and continues to spread even with great attempts to eradicate it. It is well known for it's aggressive growth and rapid establishment.

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