Herb: Tea Tree


Latin name: Melaleuca alternifolia


Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)



Medicinal use of Tea Tree:

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".

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Shrub

Height:
6 m
(20 feet)

Flovering:
June

Habitat of the herb:

Swamps by the coast.

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.

Propagation of the herb:

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.

Cultivation of Tea Tree:

Swamps by the coast.

Known hazards of Melaleuca alternifolia:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.