Melaleuca linearifolia


Family: Myrtaceae or Clove family, which includes Guava (Psidium guajava), Rose Apple or Pomme Rose (Syzygium jambos) and Bay Leaf (Pimenta racemosa).

Description: One young specimen, about 8 m tall (25 ft), located on adjacent lawn, north of Forestry office; hardy evergreen, growing to 10 m (33 ft); bark grayish white, loose and scaly, can be easily pulled off in fairly large strips, hence its common name, Paperback (in contrast to smooth, tan bark of many Myrtaceae – Guava, Bay Leaf, Allspice); foliage graceful and feathery, with alternate, elongated, lanceolate, grayish-green leaves, smelling of camphor when crushed; flowers creamy-white, abundant and fragrant, born terminally on branches, bottle-brush like; seeds take about 12 months to develop on the plant; woody seed-capsules persist for 3 or more years. (Must not be confused with its cousin, Melaleuca quinquenervia, also called Paperback because of similar paper-like bark, an invasive nusance plant from Australia, now invading Florida and the islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles).

Natural Habitat: Thrives in sunny locations, on varied soils, but especially coastal wetlands with light to heavy clays; propagation by seed and cuttings.

Origin and Distribution: Native of Tropical Asia and Australia, distributed variously in tropics and subtropics, including Florida.

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