Friday, May 4, 2018

The Oakey Bottlebrush (Melaleuca quercina)

A brief reference was made in Len Mengel's obituary to the local bottlebrush, Melaleuca quercina, and our President, Trish Gardner, has kindly allowed the following information to be copied or adapted from her blogsite, “Toowoomba Plants”.

She posted on 17 November 2011:

“Apparently this very local plant was given a name by Lyn Craven, working for CSIRO at the Australian National Herb-arium. He has at last sorted out a number of closely related plants, establishing that this one, which is only known to occur in the blacksoil country from Oakey Creek to Clifton, is a separate species. It was described and named from a specimen collected in 1991 on the western side of Brookvale Park Road, 10k west of Oakey, by Betty Ballingall.”

In an Addendum, 2018, Trish explains that in 2016 Tony Bean reviewed the genus and included the plant prev-iously known as Melaleuca phratra from the Injune/Texas area with Melaleuca quercina because they are so similar. However, they are not quite the same, and Trish recommends that people carrying out serious revege-tation work should use plants grown from the seed of their local type. Plants grown at the Crows Nest Nursery from seed produced at Cambooya would be much more appropriate.

This nursery has, in fact, been able to send a lot of Melaleuca quercina back out into the environment where they belong thanks to Len Mengel drawing attention to his own fine specimen and allowing the collection of seed. Len's plant came from a small population spread along just a few miles of Emu Creek, between Camboo-ya and Felton. Trish's post on 06 February 2011, has a number of photographs of Len's plant in bloom and mature trees along the creek looking “a bit flood-bothered” with flood debris.

“These would be a good choice to plant in areas where flooding may sweep away less sturdy vegetation. They hold on tightly to the soil with their flood and drought-adapted roots and survive inundation. They have proven to be as tough and adaptable as the closely related local red bottlebrush, Melaleuca viminalis, growing well on dry slopes and hills.”

(By Diane Pagel)

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