Growing Native Plants
Melaleuca groveana Cheel & C.T.White
Melaleuca groveana , commonly known as Grove's Paper Bark, belongs to the Myrtaceae family. It is naturally found along the east coast of Australia, south-eastern Queensland and midway down New South Wales. Melaleuca groveana has been classified as vulnerable in New South Wales and rare in Queensland. In Dooragan National Park and Scott's Head, areas in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region, the populations of Melaleuca groveana are being threatened by the invasion of Bitou Bush.
Melaleuca groveana is a small sized tree, growing to five to six meters tall. In cultivation it grows larger than in the wild, on average seven to eight meters tall. It can grow to be up to ten meters tall although this is rare. Melaleuca groveana flowers in the spring time, and fruiting occurs once flowering has finished. The bark of the Melaleuca groveana has a very stringy appearance and papery feel, hence the name 'paper bark'. The flowers are white. The leaves are quite narrow and have a 'hard' feel to them.
Melaleuca groveana has great potential for utilisation as a commercial product. The appearance of the tree indicates a very strong suitability for use as a screening tree. Surrounding the borders of a house block with Melaleuca groveana will enhance the level of privacy of the home.
Growing Melaleuca groveana is far simpler than first thought. Although the tree does require a good water season to get established, after establishment the tree is rather durable and prefers higher altitude areas of low rainfall. This contrasts to the average Melaleuca, which prefers low lying areas with high rainfall. Aside from the initial establishment period, Melaleuca groveana is a fairly drought tolerant plant, which makes it suitable for larger areas of Australia than its thirstier cousins.
Maintaining Melaleuca groveana is quite a simple activity. Occasional pruning is required and a little bit of irrigation. Being so low maintenance Melaleuca groveana is suitable for those of us who do not have a green thumb.
A Melaleuca groveana specimen can be seen at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (the ANBG). This specimen has been grown from a cutting, which for Melaleuca groveana is quite unusual. However, growing Melaleuca groveana from seeds is relatively easy. Propagating Melaleuca groveana utilising the seeds, preferably older seeds as they have a greater chance of being mature, has a high success rate.
So have you been left high and dry in the drought? Let a Melaleuca groveana keep you company!
Melaleuca – derived from the Greek word ‘melas’ which means black and ‘leuko’ meaning white referring to black marks on the white trunks of some species due to fire.
groveana – after the collector of the type specimen, C.H. Grove.
Text by Regan East (2009 Botanical Intern)
Photos: © APII - M.Fagg
Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH) (2009). Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria (CHAH). Available at http://www.cpbr.gov.au/chah/avh/index.html.
Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2005) Grove’s Paperbark – profile, Species, populations and ecological communities. Available at http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10516
Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2005) Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority Region, Recovery & threat abatement. Available at http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/pas_cma_abatement_details.aspx?cma=Northern+Rivers&type=undertake+control+actions
Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 (QLD) Schedule 4
Taylor , D. (2009) Australian National Botanical Gardens. Personal communication.
Wilson, P. G. (1991) Melaleuca groveana Cheel & C. T. White in PlantNET - The Plant Information Network System of Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia (Version 2.0). Available at http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Melaleuca~groveana