COASTAL TEA TREE
( Leptospermum laevigatum )
(Photos: http://anpsa.org.au/l-lae.html http://www.friendsofqueensparkbushland.org.au/wp-content/gallery/leptospermum-laevigatum/leptospermum-laevigatum-g3.jpg)
Tolerant of most soil types, and resistant to salt spray, this large, bushy shrub is grown in gardens along the coast… to about 5m tall, and with its greyish foliage, it can look quite attractive. However, although native to south-eastern coasts of Australia, in S.A. is now classed as an environmental weed. Identify it by grey-green, oval-shaped leaves (up to 30mm long) and white flowers. The 5-petalled flowers are round, with lots of little stamens around the centre (see photo above). The thin bark on older branches is quite stringy. Also, the fruits (seed capsules) of this tea tree have 6-11 compartments, distinguishing it from most other tea trees (maximum of 6). Why tea tree? Apparently early settlers used the leaves of some species as a substitute for tea leaves.