Melaleuca alternifolia-Tea Tree
Other names: Ti tree,Melaleuca linariifolia var. alternifolia Maiden & Betche
Habitat: Swampy, low lying wetlands in New South Wales, Australia.
Tea tree, and in particular its essential oil, is one of the most important natural antiseptics and it merits a place in every medicine chest. It is useful for treating stings, burns, wounds and skin infections of all kinds. An essential oil obtained from the leaves and twigs is strongly antiseptic, diaphoretic and expectorant. It stimulates the immune system and is effective against a broad range of bacterial and fungal infections. Internally, it is used in the treatment of chronic and some acute infections, notably cystitis, glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is used externally in the treatment of thrush, vaginal infections, acne, athlete’s foot, verrucae, warts, insect bites, cold sores and nits. It is applied neat to verrucae, warts and nits, but is diluted with a carrier oil such as almond for other uses. The oil is non-irritant. Another report says that high quality oils contain about 40% terpinen-4-ol, which is well tolerated by the skin and 5% cineol which is irritant. However, in poor quality oils the levels of cineol can exceed 10% and in some cases up to 65%. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Antiseptic’.Tea Tree Toothpaste is an excellent remedy for oral issues.Tea Tree Shampoo will help to get rid of nits.
Description of Tea tree:
Melaleuca alternifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 6 m (19ft) by 4 m (13ft).
It is hardy to zone 9. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It needs full sun. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation of Tea tree:
Requires a fertile, well-drained moisture retentive lime-free soil in full sun. Prefers a soil that does not contain much nitrogen. Plants are shade tolerant and succeed in most soils and aspects except dry conditions when they are grown in Australian gardens. This species is not very cold hardy and is only likely to succeed outdoors in the very mildest parts of Britain. It tolerates temperatures down to at least -7°c in Australian gardens but this cannot be translated directly to British gardens because of our cooler summers and longer colder and wetter winters. Seed takes about 12 months to develop on the plant, the woody seed capsules persist for 3 or more years. Any pruning is best done after the plants have flowered with the intention of maintaining a compact habit. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Propagation of Tea tree:
Seed – surface sow in spring or autumn onto a pot of permanently moist soil in a warm greenhouse. Emmerse in 5cm of water and do not water from overhead. Grow on until the seedlings are 0.5cm tall then remove from the water and pot up a week later. Seedlings are liable to damp off when grown this way, sowing the seed thinly, good ventilation and hygiene are essential for success. Grow the plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and then plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe lateral shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame.
Culinary uses of Tea tree:
None known it is poisonous if taken internally.
Part Used: Essential oil.
Indications: The essential oil of Tea Tree is an important anti-microbial that has recently become available in the UK. An undoubtedly useful oil, it has attracted to itself the modern equivalent of the old snake oil sales ‘persons’! Claims are being made that have a kernel of truth to them but are exaggerated for promotional reasons. Never believe advertisements about herbs, question them instead. The claims may be true, but get the evidence and make up your own mind. A list of conditions that Melaleucaoil has been suggested for include: sinusitis, the common cold, sinus blockage, laryngitis, coughs, apthous ulcers, boils, cuts, bites, sunburn, malaria, parasites, head lice, herpes simples, herpes progenitalis, impetigo, psoriasis, infected seborrhoeic dermatitis, ringworm of the scalp, ringworm, athletes foot, fungal infections of the nails, thrush, trichomonal vaginitis.
Preparations & Dosage:
The oil is for external use and in people with sensitive skin it should be diluted with a bland fixed oil such as almond oil. There is currently a wide range of products on the market that contain the oil. These include toothpaste, soap, shampoo.
Other uses of Tea tree:
An essential oil is obtained from the leaves. It is strongly germicidal and is also used in dentistry, deodorants, soaps, mouthwashes etc. Wood – very durable in wet conditions and in damp ground.
Esoteric uses of Tea tree:
Eliminating confusion and increasing harmony.
- Essential oil containing a range of terpenes and sesquiterpenes.