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Melaleuca linariifolia
Melaleuca linariifolia

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Zone
Zones 9, 13-24, H1
Full Sun
Full
Minimal Water
Minimal

Melaleuca linariifolia

Flaxleaf Paperbark
Myrtaceae
Evergreen, Trees

MELALEUCA

Australia is home to 140 or more species of melaleucas, and many of these show up in Western gardens. All have narrow, sometimes needlelike leaves and bear clustered flowers with prominent stamens; the blossoms attract birds. Since each flower cluster resembles a bottlebrush, some melaleucas are called bottlebrushes, though that name is more generally applied to members of the genus Callistemon.

Tight clusters of woody seed capsules are attached directly to branches; these hang on for several years, forming odd, decorative cylinders around twigs and branches. Many melaleucas have interestingly contorted branches and bark that peels off in thick, papery layers.

All melaleucas are easy to grow. Most withstand heat, wind, seacoast conditions, poor soil, and limited moisture. Most are vigorous and fast growing; for a natural appearance, control by cutting back selected branches to a well-placed side branch. Almost all melaleucas make good screens; some of the larger ones are useful as flowering or shade trees.

Melaleuca linariifolia

This tree grows to 20–30 ft. tall and 20–25 ft. wide, with a dense, umbrellalike crown. White bark sheds in papery flakes. Slender branchlets covered with stiff, bright green or bluish green, needlelike leaves about 1 1/4 in. long. In summer, numerous fluffy spikes of small white flowers give the effect of snow on branches. Young plants are willowy and need staking until the trunk firms up.

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