Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Tea Tree
Melaleuca alternifolia
Myrtaceae

An essential oil is obtained from the leaves[156, 157]. It is strongly germicidal and is also used in dentistry, deodorants, soaps, mouthwashes etc[156, 238].

Wood – very durable in wet conditions and in damp ground[167].

  • Medicinal Use

    Tea tree, and in particular its essential oil, is one of the most important natural antiseptics and it merits a place in every medicine chest[254]. It is useful for treating stings, burns, wounds and skin infections of all kinds[254].

    An essential oil obtained from the leaves and twigs is strongly antiseptic, diaphoretic and expectorant[156, 157, 238]. It stimulates the immune system and is effective against a broad range of bacterial and fungal infections[238]. Internally, it is used in the treatment of chronic and some acute infections, notably cystitis, glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome[254]. It is used externally in the treatment of thrush, vaginal infections, acne, athlete’s foot, verrucae, warts, insect bites, cold sores and nits[238]. It is applied neat to verrucae, warts and nits, but is diluted with a carrier oil such as almond for other uses[238].

    The oil is non-irritant[238]. Another report says that high quality oils contain about 40% terpinen-4-ol, which is well tolerated by the skin and 5% cineol which is irritant. However, in poor quality oils the levels of cineol can exceed 10% and in some cases up to 65%[254].

    The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Antiseptic'[210].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – surface sow in spring or autumn onto a pot of permanently moist soil in a warm greenhouse. Emmerse in 5cm of water and do not water from overhead. Grow on until the seedlings are 0.5cm tall then remove from the water and pot up a week later. Seedlings are liable to damp off when grown this way, sowing the seed thinly, good ventilation and hygiene are essential for success[200]. Grow the plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and then plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe lateral shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame[200].
Requires a fertile, well-drained moisture retentive lime-free soil in full sun[182]. Prefers a soil that does not contain much nitrogen[188]. Plants are shade tolerant and succeed in most soils and aspects except dry conditions when they are grown in Australian gardens[157]. This species is not very cold hardy and is only likely to succeed outdoors in the very mildest parts of Britain. It tolerates temperatures down to at least -7¡c in Australian gardens[157] but this cannot be translated directly to British gardens because of our cooler summers and longer colder and wetter winters. Seed takes about 12 months to develop on the plant, the woody seed capsules persist for 3 or more years[200]. Any pruning is best done after the plants have flowered with the intention of maintaining a compact habit[200]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
Australia – New South Wales, Queensland.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.