Characteristics of Kinabalu Tea Tree (Leptospermum recurvum) in the Wild

Leptospermum recurvum
Kinabalu Tea Tree (Leptospermum recurvum) is a species of shrub or small tree that is endemic to Mount Kinabalu, Borneo. This tree grows at an altitude of 2,100 to 2,700 m above sea level.

The Kinabalu Tea Tree was first described in 1852 by Joseph Dalton Hooker in William Jackson Hooker’s book Icones Plantarum.

Although the name “tea tree” refers to the tea tree species, it is not a tea tree. These are named after tea trees because they only grow near the top of the mountains.

The benefits or uses are not yet known and there is little information about this tree because it can only be found on Mount Kinabalu, Borneo. If you want to see them more, you have to come to their habitat location firsthand.

 

Characteristics of Kinabalu Tea Leaf and Flowers

Leptospermum recurvum Flower
Source: flickr.com

The leaves are very small, elliptical, or nearly round with a downward curved tip, most are 3-5 mm long and 2-3 mm wide and lack a petiole. The upper surface of the leaves is mostly glossy and the underside is usually downy on the young leaves.

The flowers are white, about 11 mm wide, and arranged individually on short shoots. There are wide reddish-brown bracts at the base of the flower buds which mostly remain at the base until the flowers bloom.

Flowers 2-3 mm long, tapering into short pedicels. The sepals are 1.5-2 mm long, with petals 5 mm long, and the stamens are about 2.5 mm long. The flowers bloom without season and appear almost every month.

 

Characteristics of Kinabalu Tea Fruit

Leptospermum recurvum Fruit
Source: flickr.com

The fruit is a capsule 6-7 mm wide and persists for several years on the branch.

 

Characteristics of Kinabalu Tea Tree Tree

Leptospermum recurvum Tree
Source: flickr.com

Kinabalu Tea Trees sometimes grow as dense low shrubs, sometimes they are also found as small trees 10 meters high or more. The bark is thin, pale, scaly and the young stems have a wide flange near the base of the leaves.

Leptospermum recurvum or Kinabalu Tea Tree is endemic to Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, which occurs in the highlands and most of them grow in rock crevices.

Seen from a distance, this tree resembles the Cantigi (Vaccinium varingifolium) which is endemic to the mountainous highlands of Java Island. However, they have different flowers and fruits.

 

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