Herb: Tea Tree
Latin name: Leptospermum scoparium
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)
Edible parts of Tea Tree:The fresh, pungent leaves are a fragrant and refreshing tea substitute. Of excellent quality, in taste trials this species has often received higher marks than the traditional China tea obtained from Camellia sinensis. It is important to brew the leaves for considerably longer than normal teas to ensure the flavour is released into the water. A sweet manna is sometimes exuded from the stems as a result of insect damage. Another report says that manna is reported to form on the leaves.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Many habitats in lowland to alpine areas, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Rocky and sandy heathland, often by streams.
Other uses of Tea Tree:This species can be grown as a hedge in the milder areas of Britain and is reasonably tolerant of maritime exposure. Plants should not be trimmed back into old wood, however, because they do not regenerate from such treatment. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the flowers, branches and leaves. A greenish-black dye is obtained from the flowers. Source of an insecticide (no further details). Wood - red, strong, elastic. Used for inlay work, cabinet making etc. The bark is used for roofing huts.
Propagation of the herb:Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for their first winter or two outdoors. The seed remains viable for many years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8 cm with a heel, early August in a frame. Over-winter in the greenhouse for its first year. Good percentage. Cuttings of almost mature wood, 4 - 5 cm with a heel, October/November in a frame. Good percentage.
Cultivation of Tea Tree:Many habitats in lowland to alpine areas, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Rocky and sandy heathland, often by streams.
Medicinal use of the herb:None known
Known hazards of Leptospermum scoparium:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.