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Zones 13, 16-24, H1
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Moderate, Minimal

Melaleuca nesophila

Evergreen, Trees


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 melalecas 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, 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 nesophila

Fast growth 15 to 20 ft. high (possibly to 30 ft.) and about as wide. Grows naturally as a small tree. Develops gnarled, heavy branches that sprawl or ascend in picturesque patterns. Grayish cream to pale brown bark is thick and spongy; gray-green leaves are thick, roundish, to 1 in. long. Roundish bottlebrush flower clusters to 1 in. wide are produced at branch ends most of the year; they open mauve pink, fade to white with yellow tips. Use as tree or big, informal screen; or shear as hedge. Takes ocean winds and spray; poor, rocky soil; desert heat. Little to regular water.

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