Characteristics of White Paperbark (Melaleuca leucadendra) Tree in the Wild

Melaleuca leucadendra
White paperbark or Weeping paperbark is a plant in the Myrtaceae family and is widespread in Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and Australia. This is the only Melaleuca species that grows in Indonesia.

White paperbark trees flower almost every time of the year and often grow in a dry forest or vacant lots. The tree was first described in 1762 by Carl Linnaeus.

As a form, white paperbark trees are similar to other paperbark trees, especially Melaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca quinquenervia, Melaleuca linariifolia, and Melaleuca viridiflora. Because of the similarities of its siblings, people in English-speaking countries often refer to it as Cajuput or Cajeput. Cajuput itself has the meaning “oil obtained from cajuputi”.

 

Characteristics of White Paperbark Leaf

Melaleuca leucadendra Leaf
Source : flickr.com/Russell Cumming

The leaves are arranged alternately, 7-27 cm long, 1-4 cm wide, with a pointed tip.

 

Characteristics of White Paperbark Flower

Melaleuca leucadendra Flower
Source : flickr.com/Alka Khare

The flowers are beige or greenish-white and grow on the tips of branches. It blooms at any time of the year and is followed by fruits in the form of 4-5 mm wooden capsules, and appear along the stem.

Melaleuca leucadendra Fruit
Source : flickr.com/tanetahi

Characteristics of White Paperbark Tree

Melaleuca leucadendra Tree
White paperbark (Melaleuca leucadendra) at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Planted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 | Source : wikimedia.org/Eug

White paperbark trees can grow to heights of 20-25 meters with thick, rough, white bark.

The Indonesian government has several white paperbark forests to produce oil from its extracts. Oil taken from distillation is commonly used as an oil mixture and perfume mixture.

 
BENEFITS OF PAPERBARK TREES

Essential oils can be distilled from white paperbark trees.

The Aborigines used pieces of white paperbark bark and tied them to the Dodonaea branch frame to build waterproof huts.

White paperbark bark is also used to wrap food before cooking in an underground oven called Lap Mari.

Wooden trunks from large white paperbark trees are used to make canoes, poles, and construction.

The leaves are used to treat respiratory infections and flowers to make traditional drinks.

 

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