melaleuca USDA PLANTS SYMBOL: MEQU
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) Blake
Synonym(s): punktree, paperbark

Melaleuca is a tall (up to 80 ft. [24.4 m]), evergreen tree in the eucalyptus family that invades wetland habitats in southern Florida. The bark is papery, layered, brownish-white and peeling. The alternate leaves are gray-green, oval, 1-4 in. (2.5-10.2 cm) long and smell of camphor when crushed. Flowering occurs throughout the year. The brush-like spikes of flowers are white in color and give way to small, woody, seed capsules. Seeds are spread by wind and water. Melaleuca aggressively invades a variety of wetland habitats including sawgrass marshes, wet prairies, and aquatic sloughs. It often forms impenetrable thickets, reduces biodiversity, displaces native vegetation and reduces the value of these habitats for wildlife. It also accelerates the loss of groundwater due to increased evapotranspiration. Melaleuca is native to Australia, New Guinea, and New Caledonia and was first introduced into the United States in southern Florida in the early 1900s for landscaping and “swamp drying” purposes. Melaleuca resembles red bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus), but the flowers of C. citrinus are red.

Identification, Biology, Control and Management Resources