Melaleuca decora

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White feather honeymyrtle
Melaleuca decora leaves and flowers.jpg
Melaleuca decora leaves and flowers
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Melaleuca
Species:
M. decora
Binomial name
Melaleuca decora
(Salisb.) Britten
Synonyms[1]

Melaleuca decora, commonly known as the white feather honeymyrtle,[2] is a plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae and is native to eastern Australia. It is a large shrub to small tree with papery bark, lance-shaped leaves and sweet-smelling, creamy-coloured flowers in summer. It grows in near-coastal forest and swamps in New South Wales and Queensland.

Description[edit]

Melaleuca decora has brown or whitish papery bark and grows to the height of a small tree, usually to 10 m (30 ft) but exceptional specimens may exceed 20 m (70 ft) in height.[3] The leaves are arranged alternately, 7.8–16.5 mm (0.3–0.6 in) long, 1–2 mm (0.04–0.08 in) wide, flat, narrow elliptic in shape and tapering to a point.[1][4][5]

The flowers are cream-coloured or white, arranged in spikes on the ends of branches which continue to grow after flowering, sometimes on the sides of the branches. The spikes are up to 17 mm (0.7 in) in diameter, 20–50 mm (0.8–2 in) long and have between 3 and 30 groups of flowers, usually in threes. The petals are roughly egg-shaped 2–2.5 mm (0.08–0.1 in) long and fall off as the flower ages. The stamens are arranged in five bundles around the flowers with 20 to 40 stamens in each bundle.

The main flowering season is from November to January and is followed by fruit which are woody capsules 2–3 mm (0.08–0.1 in) long, well spaced along the stems.[1][4][5]

M. decora tree in a Sydney suburb
M. decora tree in a Sydney suburb
The tree blooming in summer

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

This species was first formally described in 1796 by Richard Anthony Salisbury who named it Metrosideros decora.[6][7] The reason he chose the specific epithet (decora) was not explained, but it is a Latin word meaning "fitting", "proper" or "beautiful".[8] In 1916, James Britten moved it to the genus Melaleuca as Melaleuca decora.[9][10]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Melaleuca decora occurs in Queensland south from the Burnett River district and in New South Wales north from the Shoalhaven River growing in sand[1] and heavy soils[5] in open forest and swamps in coastal districts.[4]

Use in horticulture[edit]

Melaleuca decora is a hardy plant which can be grown in a range of soil types, but needs plenty of water and will tolerate poorly drained sites. It is a useful screening plant and flowers profusely.[11]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Brophy, Joseph J.; Craven, Lyndley A.; Doran, John C. (2013). Melaleucas : their botany, essential oils and uses. Canberra: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. p. 140. ISBN 9781922137517.
  2. ^ "Melaleuca decora - White feather honey myrtle" (PDF). Waverley Council. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  3. ^ Robinson, Les (2003). Field guide to the native plants of Sydney (Rev. 3rd ed.). East Roseville, NSW: Kangaroo Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780731812110.
  4. ^ a b c Holliday, Ivan (2004). Melaleucas : a field and garden guide (2nd ed.). Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: Reed New Holland Publishers. pp. 82–83. ISBN 1876334983.
  5. ^ a b c "Melaleuca decora". Plantnet:Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  6. ^ Salisbury, Richard Anthony (1796). Prodromus Stirpium in Horto ad Chapel Allerton Vigentium. London. p. 350. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Metrosideros decora". APNI. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  8. ^ Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 577.
  9. ^ Britten, James (1916). Journal of Botany, British and Foreign. London: Adlard & son and West Newman. p. 62. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Melaleuca decora". APNI. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  11. ^ Wrigley, John W.; Fagg, Murray (1983). Australian native plants : a manual for their propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping (2nd ed.). Sydney: Collins. p. 262. ISBN 0002165759.