Melaleuca quinquenervia (Paperbark Tree)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0025
  • Botanical Name: Melaleuca quinquenervia
  • Common Name: Paperbark Tree
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Myrtaceae
  • Native To: Eastern Australia, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea
Melaleuca quinquenervia 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type: Tree
  • Texture: Coarse
  • Form: Upright-Narrow to Weeping/Pendent 
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): 45'-80'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: 8:1
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Landscape Values: Street Tree, Background, Border, Framing, Mass, Screen, Sculptural Form, Space Division, Windbreak, Erosion Control
  • Outstanding Quality: Bark, Fragrance BUT Respiratory Distress!
Melaleuca quinquenervia  leaves and inflorescences 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Botanical Information

  • Flowers: Fragrant and known to cause allergies to respiratory system and skin. Creamy white, floral tube is cup-shaped, stamens provide prominent visual features.
Melaleuca quinquenervia  leaves and inflorescences 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Fruits: Capsule-like, woody, flat-topped, crowded on the inflorescence

Melaleuca quinquenervia  fruits
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Bronze, Reddish, Soft, light green, or Yellow Green. Mature: Bright medium green, dark green, gray green, blue-green, gray, light green, yellow-green, bronze to red, or variegated. 
  • Foliage Tip: Acute
  • Foliage Base: Acute
  • Petiole: Rather short, 0.1"-0.25"
  • Stipules: N/A
  • Margins: Smooth
  • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
  • Leaf Shape: Lanceolate to Oblanceolate
    • Leaf Type: Simple
    • Leaf Texture: A description of touching the leaf, how the leaf feels to the touch.
    • Leaf Special Notes: Parallel veins. When crushed, smells like Shave Ice or an analogous sweet, fruity smell.
    Melaleuca quinquenervia  leaves and inflorescences 
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Soft, papery, white to cream to light brown bark. Peeling in sheets. 
    Melaleuca quinquenervia  trunk
    Photo by Matthew Gaston
    Melaleuca quinquenervia  trunk
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Horticultural Information

    • Light Preference: Full Sun
    • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
    • Soil Preferences: Organic, Moist
    • Tolerances: Poor Drainage, Submerged Roots, Smog, Compacted Soil, Strong Winds, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering, Drought. 
    • Water Requirements: Naturally grows in wetlands and swampy locations, but can tolerate drought. 
    • Notes on Maintenance: Compounds in the flower are known to induce respiratory and skin allergies. Messy bark flakes off, a registered noxious weed in Hawaii. Can tolerate conditions most trees cannot. 
    • Propagation: Seed, Root Suckers
    • USDA Hardiness Zone: 9a
    • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 15,  High Risk

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