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It is a hardy, commonly grown species, often used as a fast-growing screen plant. In its natural state, it grows on coastal cliffs and along estuaries.
The flowers are white, sometimes cream-coloured, rarely pink, and are arranged in cylindrical spikes on the sides of branches, often on older wood.
This is a quick-growing small multi-stemmed shrub with upright stems and slightly pendulous branch tips. Small leaves are arranged in two pairs of opposite rows forming a cross when viewed from above. Mauve flowers are carried in small, cylindrical spikes on short, lateral branches or at the base of leafy branches.
Melaleuca elliptica is a shrub with pale grey, papery bark that peels in thin strips. Its leaves are arranged in alternating pairs (decussate), each pair at right angles to the ones above and below so that there are four rows of leaves along the stems. The leaves are elliptic to egg-shaped with the ends usually rounded.
Melaleuca elliptica can withstand salt winds in dry coastal areas and makes a good screen against salt spray. It is drought and frost hardy to about 20 degrees F. once established and can hold up to salt laden winds along the coast, making it a good first exposure screen to protect other plants in beachside plantings.
In contrast with its relative, a valuable Tea Tree, this Melaleuca has rather disturbing story. Being a tough plant, tolerating both standing water or dry upland situations, Melaleuca quinquenervia was introduced in Hawaii and the Florida Everglades, in order to help drain low-lying swampy areas. It has since gone on to become an invasive weed with potentially very serious consequences being that the plants are highly flammable and spread aggressively.
Melaleuca quinquenervia is an evergreen tree with a slender crown and drooping branches. Melaleuca grows very fast, up to 6 ft per year, and produces dense stands that completely shade out all other vegetation. It usually gets about 40 ft tall, but can get up to 100 ft if conditions are favorable. The bark is whitish and spongy, peeling off in thin layers. The leaves smell like camphor when bruised. The flowers are creamy white and arranged in "bottle brush" spikes; they are followed by fruit - small woody capsules, each containing several hundred tiny seeds, dispersed then by wind and water. A single tree that starts blooming when two year old, can produce 20 million seeds per year. The seeds are stored until some form of stress, such as frost, fire or human- induced injury, including herbicide, causes the capsules to open. The plant re-sprouts from cut stumps and from roots of fire-killed trees. Mature melaleuca trees survived Florida record-breaking freezes. Freezing is yet another environmental stress factor known to trigger mass seed release.
In Southern Florida, Melaleuca occupies now several million acres, primarily within the Everglades system. Its populations have nearly quadrupled over the past decade, it has become one of the state's worst invasive weeds and represents a severe threat to the integrity of the Florida Everglades. Melaleuca was introduced into Florida in 1906 as an ornamental and widely planted for landscaping and for "swamp drying." Seeds were scattered from airplanes over the Everglades in the 1930's in an attempt to create forests and drain the swamp. Even as late as the 1960's, Melaleuca was still being recommended as an ornamental. Today, state and federal agencies are actively working to control the spread of this exotic menace. Biological control agents from Australia have been released. Crews are at work continuously cutting and herbiciding melaleuca trees in state parks, Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
Melaleuca quinquenervia is similar to Melaleuca cajuputi but its old leaves are not conspicuously dotted with glands, not thin-textured and have obscure reticulations.
Metrosideros angustifolia as well as Cape endemic. evergreen shrub or small tree with deep-green sheets and white to cream-colored paintbrush-shaped blossoms with numerous remarkable dust threads.
This plant's roots possess root nodules, which harbor a symbiotic species of actinomycotal bacteria, which fixes nitrogen at a faster rate than do the legumes.
True Myrtle is an evergreen shrub or small tree with dense foliage. The leaves when crushed have a strong scent, aromatic and refreshing, somewhat reminiscent to myrrh or eucalyptus. The small white flowers are sweetly scented.
The fresh or dried leaves are used as a spice, and can be used as a substitute for bay leaves. The dried blue purple berry fruits are edible and also aromatic and have been tried as a substitute for black pepper.
A popular landscape plant, Myrtle can be grown in part shade as well as full sun, and needs only little to moderate water. It can be grown in wide range of soils as long as drainage is good. Tolerates some freeze. Blooms in early summer.