Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake

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Melaleuca quinquenervia is a small to medium sized tree (8-12 m) that is native to the coastal region of eastern Australia, southern Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia between latitudes 8 and 340 S. It has been planted as an exotic in the tropical lowlands of several countries and has become a serious weed in Florida, USA. The leaves are a source of the cineole-rich essential oil called niaouli oil or goman oil used in pharmaceutical preparations. It is often grown as a windbreak and as an ornamental. A strong flavoured honey is produced from the abundant flowers. The wood is an excellent fuel and makes good quality charcoal. It is suitable for pit props, fence posts, flooring and pulp. The paper-like bark may be used as mulch in potting mixes, for packaging and insulation. The paper describes the botanical features, aspects of its growth and development, its ecology, pests and diseases, harvesting and genetic resources. It concludes that the best prospects for the use of Melaleuca quinquenervia are on swampy sites, as more productive species are already available for better-drained habitats. It has a demonstrated ability to grow quite rapidly in areas of the humid and subhumid tropics that may be inundated for many months. Further research on this species and its close relatives is advocated and this should proceed with care in view of its potential to become a serious weed.

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