The wonderful Tea Tree is part of a genus made up of about 80 species of evergreen shrubs or small trees with small narrow, needle-like leaves, some of which are aromatic when crushed, a bit lemony. Native of Australia, it has a relative that is native to NZ which is naturally widespread in certain areas.
When Captain Cook’s crew and the early settlers were suffering from scurvy as well as withdrawal from their regular English tea, they would use the leaves of a variety of the Leptospermum to make a brew.
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The flowers range in colour from white through pink and red shades, and there are singles and doubles that bloom prolifically. They are used in many different ways in landscaping; groups of trees provide graceful hedging, single specimens provide a splash of colour, they can be pruned to shapes such as standards, and they make an excellent addition to the vase. The nectar from the flowers is harvested by bees and makes a yummy and highly beneficial honey.
The requirements for cultivation of the species are that they are best suited to well-drained soil in full sun, but some will tolerate wet and shady conditions. In order to retain their bushy habit, light pruning from a young age and each year after flowering is recommended. Most species are hardy to drought.
Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as Manuka is a bushy shrub seldom more than 3.5 – 4m high, but Leptospermum ericoides, knownasKanuka grows into a small tree up to 12m or more. Both species are, however, extremely variable. They flower in profusion and Manuka has showy, white flowers about 10cm across but Kanuka has much smaller flowers. The fruits are woody capsules containing numerous small, linear seeds. Manuka sheds its bark in long papery strips and the wood is the best known firewood in New Zealand so you can always put your prunings into the fire which will keep you warm and hapy and gay on those cold winter nights!
Gorgeous single white flowers massed on ornamental dark foliage make this low growing, prostrate ground cover a good choice for cascading over walls or covering banks. The flowers appear in late winter. Prefers full sun and shelter from the wind. Tolerates most soils. Trim after flowering. Hardy. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Prostrate Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm