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Broom Tea-tree

Leptospermum scoparium

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Myrtaceae (Myrtle)
Also in this family:
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
5 metres tall
Gardens, parks, scrub, seaside.

Pink, 5 petals
The flowers of Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as Manuka or Tea Tree, are small and delicate, typically measuring around 1-2 centimeters in diameter. They feature five petals arranged in a star-like formation, which can vary in color from pure white to shades of pink and occasionally deep red. Each flower has numerous prominent stamens that give it a feathery appearance. The blossoms are abundant and often cover the shrub in a profusion of color during the flowering season, which generally occurs in late spring to early summer. These flowers are not only visually attractive but also serve as a vital food source for bees and other pollinators, contributing to the ecosystem's biodiversity.
The fruit of the Broom Tea Tree consists of small, woody capsules that develop after the flowers have been pollinated. These capsules are typically around 5-7 millimeters in diameter and contain numerous tiny seeds. When mature, the capsules split open to release the seeds, which are dispersed by wind or other means. The fruiting period generally follows the flowering season, extending into late summer and early autumn. While not as visually striking as the flowers, the fruit capsules contribute to the reproductive cycle of the plant and play a role in its propagation and spread.
The leaves of the Broom Tea Tree are small, narrow, and lance-shaped, typically measuring about 7-20 millimeters in length. They are arranged alternately along the stems and are densely packed, giving the shrub a bushy appearance. The leaves are dark green with a glossy texture on the upper surface and a lighter green or greyish underside. They have a sharp, pointed tip and smooth margins. The foliage of Manuka is evergreen, meaning the leaves persist year-round without seasonal shedding. The aromatic oils present in the leaves contribute to their distinctive fragrance when crushed or bruised, adding to the plant's appeal in gardens and natural settings alike.
The fragrance of the Broom Tea Tree is notable for its aromatic qualities. When the leaves are crushed or brushed against, they release a distinctive scent that is often described as herbal, resinous, and slightly medicinal. This aromatic profile is attributed to the presence of volatile oils within the leaves, which contribute to their fragrance. The scent of Manuka can vary slightly depending on environmental factors such as soil type, moisture levels, and climate, but it generally remains consistent in its herbal and resinous character. This fragrance adds to the plant's appeal in gardens and natural landscapes, enhancing its sensory allure beyond its visual and ecological attributes.
Other Names:
Manuka, Manuka Myrtle, New Zealand Teatree, Tea Tree.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information

Leptospermum scoparium, commonly known as Manuka or Tea Tree, is an evergreen shrub renowned for its small, needle-like leaves that are aromatic when crushed. It typically grows 2-5 meters tall (6-16 feet) but can reach up to 15 meters (50 feet) under favorable conditions. The plant produces small, five-petaled flowers in shades of white, pink, or red, which attract bees and other pollinators. Manuka is culturally significant in New Zealand, where its honey is prized for its antibacterial properties.

Exploring the Broom Tea-tree: Nature's Gift in Your Garden

In the realm of garden flora, few plants boast the combination of beauty, fragrance, and practical utility quite like the Broom Tea-tree (Leptospermum scoparium). Originating from the pristine landscapes of New Zealand and Australia, this versatile evergreen shrub has garnered a global following for its ornamental appeal, ecological value, and cultural significance.

Aesthetic Delights

The Broom Tea-tree presents a picturesque silhouette with its compact yet bushy form, typically reaching heights of 2 to 5 meters (6 to 16 feet). Its slender leaves, dark green and glossy on top with a lighter hue beneath, create a dense canopy that remains verdant throughout the year. When disturbed, the foliage releases a delightful herbal aroma, adding a sensory dimension to its already pleasing appearance.

Floral Spectacle

Spring heralds the arrival of the Broom Tea-tree's captivating flowers, a display that transforms gardens into scenes of natural wonder. The blooms, dainty and intricate, emerge in clusters and range in color from pristine white to delicate shades of pink and deep crimson. Each flower boasts a star-like arrangement of five petals, attracting bees and butterflies with its abundant nectar. This seasonal burst of color and activity makes the Broom Tea-tree a cherished feature in pollinator-friendly gardens.

Fruit and Lifecycle

Following the floral showcase, the Broom Tea-tree forms small, woody capsules that house its seeds. These capsules, measuring 5 to 7 millimeters in diameter, eventually split open to disperse their seeds, contributing to the shrub's natural propagation. While not as showy as the flowers, the fruit capsules add a rustic charm and ensure the continuation of the plant's lifecycle in gardens and natural habitats alike.

Cultural Heritage and Practical Uses

Beyond its aesthetic allure, the Broom Tea-tree holds deep cultural significance, particularly in indigenous cultures where it has been used for its medicinal properties. Most notably, the shrub yields Manuka honey, renowned for its distinctive taste and potent antibacterial qualities. This prized honey has found its way into kitchens and apothecaries worldwide, celebrated for its therapeutic benefits and culinary appeal.

Gardening Tips and Care

For those considering adding the Broom Tea-tree to their garden:

  • Location: Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil to encourage healthy growth and prolific flowering.
  • Maintenance: Prune lightly after flowering to maintain a compact shape and promote vigorous regrowth.
  • Climate: While adaptable, the shrub thrives in temperate climates and benefits from protection against harsh frosts.

Whether as a focal point in a wildlife garden, a source of aromatic foliage, or a provider of prized honey, the Broom Tea-tree enriches any landscape with its beauty and practical benefits. Its resilience, coupled with its ecological role as a pollinator magnet, underscores its value in sustainable gardening practices. Embrace the charm of the Broom Tea-tree in your garden, and experience firsthand the timeless allure and multifaceted contributions of this remarkable shrub.

30 Facts About the Broom Tea-tree

Here are 30 facts about the Broom Tea-tree (Leptospermum scoparium):

  1. Botanical Name: Leptospermum scoparium.
  2. Common Names: Broom Tea-tree, Manuka, New Zealand Tea Tree.
  3. Origin: Native to New Zealand and southeastern Australia.
  4. Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle family).
  5. Type: Evergreen shrub or small tree.
  6. Height: Typically 2-5 meters (6-16 feet), can reach up to 15 meters (50 feet) in optimal conditions.
  7. Leaves: Small, narrow, lance-shaped, dark green with a glossy upper surface and lighter underside.
  8. Fragrance: Leaves emit a herbal, resinous aroma when crushed.
  9. Flowers: Small, five-petaled blooms in white, pink, or red, appearing profusely in late spring to early summer.
  10. Pollinators: Attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects.
  11. Fruit: Woody capsules, 5-7 mm in diameter, containing numerous tiny seeds.
  12. Propagation: Reproduces via seeds dispersed from mature capsules.
  13. Cultural Significance: Sacred plant in Māori culture; used in traditional medicine and spiritual rituals.
  14. Habitat: Thrives in coastal areas, scrublands, and forest margins.
  15. Adaptability: Tolerates a wide range of soil types but prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
  16. Climate: Prefers temperate climates; tolerant of salt spray and wind.
  17. Wildlife Value: Provides habitat and food for native birds and insects.
  18. Manuka Honey: Produced from its nectar, known for antibacterial properties and health benefits.
  19. Commercial Importance: Manuka honey is a sought-after product with high market value.
  20. Medicinal Uses: Leaves used traditionally for treating wounds, colds, and digestive ailments.
  21. Agricultural Uses: Erosion control, reforestation projects, and landscaping.
  22. Growth Rate: Moderately fast-growing under favorable conditions.
  23. Drought Tolerance: Exhibits moderate drought tolerance once established.
  24. Pest Resistance: Generally resistant to common garden pests and diseases.
  25. Cultivars: Numerous cultivars selected for flower color and growth habit.
  26. Propagation: Can be propagated from cuttings or seeds.
  27. Landscaping: Popular as a hedge, specimen plant, or in mixed shrub borders.
  28. Conservation: Important in native plant conservation efforts in its native range.
  29. Traditional Crafts: Wood used for carving and traditional tools in Māori culture.
  30. Global Presence: Cultivated in gardens worldwide for its ornamental and practical attributes.

These facts highlight the diverse and valuable characteristics of the Broom Tea-tree, showcasing its ecological, cultural, and practical significance.