The last photograph in this series on Australian plants is again supplied by Eric in SF@Flickr (original pic | BPotD Flickr Group Pool). I emphasized this series because it’s likely we’ll revisit Australian plants in a shorter series later this month – for reasons to be revealed, I couldn’t share a few of the photographs I’ve recently received (yet). Thanks once more, Eric.
Tea trees are not the source of conventional tea, but were used by early European settlers of Australia in a similar fashion to make a tea substitute. Use by the Aborigines ranged from wood in weapons and tools to medicines. Modern use of the round-leaved tea tree, today’s photo, extends into ornamental horticulture where it is described by the Australian National Botanic Gardens as “one of Australia’s best Leptospermum sp. and one with great potential for hybridisation” and “a fine screen or feature plant”.
The medicinal uses identified by the Aborigines are, at least in part, reflected by another economic byproduct of Leptospermum: tea-tree honey, which is highly anti-bacterial.
Technical descriptions of this species (and distribution) are available from the New South Wales Flora Online, Leptospermum rotundifolium, while a more general description of round-leaved tea tree is provided by the Australian National Botanic Gardens.