The preferred common name for the larger
species with the appropriate bark character
is “paperbark” with some qualifying adjective
(Boland et al., 1994).
The northern Australian melaleucas are dominated
silver paperbark (M. argentea), blue paperbark
(M. dealbata) and yellow-barked paperbark
(M. nervosa) with forb and grassy understoreys.
Other species in the Northern Territory include
M. citrolens, M. cajuputi, M. stenostachya,
M. minutifolia, M. acacioides and in Queensland,
M. tamariscina, M. bracteata, M. stenostachya,
M. saligna, M. arcana, M. clarksonii, M. citrolens,
M. foliolosa and M. ﬂuviatilis.
In southern and eastern Australia the melaleucas
and swamps with the paperbarked tea-tree
(M. quinquenervia), the most widespread coastal
species. In New South Wales additional coastal
woodland and forest species include M. decora,
M. sieberi, M. nodosa and
MVG 9—MELALEUCA FORESTS AND WOODLANDS
hoto: M. F
Melaleuca sp. low open forest, 30 km north of Grafton, NSW
In Western Australia, Melaleuca Forests and
sites, such as the swamp paperbark (M. preissiana)
on subcoastal swamp areas and (M. rhaphiophylla)
on creek lines and watercourses.
Very small coastal areas in South Australia
Associated species vary throughout Australia,
In drier areas of Australia, emu bushes
(Eremophila spp.) and other shrubs dominate
the understorey, whilst in damper and wetter
areas in the east and south the understorey
is dominated by sedges and aquatics.
MVG 9—Melaleuca Forests and Woodlands
Melaleuca open forests and woodlands (299)
Closed forest (low, mid)
Open forest (tall, mid, low)
Woodland (tall, mid, low)
Open woodland (mid, low)
Number of IBRA regions
Most extensive in IBRA region
Est. pre–1750 and present: Gulf Plains (Qld)
Estimated pre–1750 extent (km
While Australia is the home of most melaleucas,
to New Guinea, New Caledonia, Malaysia,
India and Indonesia (Boland et al., 1994).
Primarily in the coastal and subcoastal areas
Territory and in far north Queensland on the
areas adjacent to the Gulf of Carpentaria and
on the Cape York Peninsula.
Largest area occurs in Queensland (70 657 km
coasts of Queensland, New South Wales and
Western Australia, and around fringes of rivers
and coastal wetlands.
Some of the better known species have a marked
seasonally, particularly on or near the
coast including brackish and saline areas
(Boland et al., 1994).
Approximately 6% of the estimated pre–1750
clearing in Australia.
Approximately 6 500 km
The remoteness of the extensive monsoonal
comparatively harsh site conditions, particularly
during periods of seasonal inundation, has
protected them from major changes.
In less remote coastal areas the wetlands have
development or urban expansion. Historically
some of the swamp areas have also been developed
for intensive agriculture (cropping and grazing),
particularly where the soils have been high
Many of the early settlers grew potatoes in the
seasonally drier parts of melaleuca swamps to
sustain their small settlements. Selected swamps
have also been mined for peat and other materials
used in horticulture. Drainage of these systems
also has a high likelihood of disturbing acid
Areas have been cleared for grazing and cropping
Many melaleuca wetlands in coastal northern New
South Wales and Queensland have been altered
by changes to natural drainage patterns and
waterway ﬂows (e.g. construction of ﬂoodgates
as part of ﬂoodplain management programs of
Biodiversity including understorey grasses and
Flood retention basins and nutrient sinks—a key
Honey and ﬂorist products—ﬂowers and foliage.
Maintenance of local site conditions that
and tidal regimes).
Clearing and edge eﬀects.
Isolation of fauna populations by barriers such
as roads or powerlines.
Weed control (e.g. aggressive weeds such
Rehabilitation as part of improved
Management of melaleuca stands along watercourses
and wetlands provides challenges in many parts of
Australia, particularly as part of integrated ﬂoodplain
management. Melaleuca species exposed to dryland
salinity are also under threat, resulting in changes to
the ﬂoristic composition of wetland communities, for
example in many of the freshwater lakes of south-west
Australian Surveying and Land Information Group
(1990) Atlas of Australian Resources. Volume 6
Vegetation. AUSMAP, Department of Administrative
Services, Canberra, 64pp. & 2 maps.
Beadle N.C.W. (1981) The Vegetation of Australia.
Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 690pp.
Boland D.J., Brooker M.I.H., Chippendale G.M.,
Hall N., Hyland B.P.M., Johnston R.D., Kleinig
D.A., and Turner J.D. (1994) Forest Trees of Australia.
CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
National Land & Water Resources Audit (2001)
Australian Native Vegetation Assessment 2001. National
Land & Water Resources Audit, Canberra, 332pp.
the 1970s and 1980s). In dryland salinity areas,
melaleuca communities along watercourses have
been impacted by increased waterlogging and
Melaleuca Forests and Woodlands occur across a range of land tenures.
largely leasehold land, some in protected areas
and on freehold land
largely leasehold land, then freehold land and protected areas, some
state forest and reserved crown land
protected areas, leasehold land
largely in protected areas, some freehold land
protected areas, some on freehold land
and in state forest
Litchﬁeld National Park, NT
Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia
(IBRA), Version 6.1.
Land Tenure in Australia’s Rangelands (1955 to
2000), National Land and Water Resources Audit.
National Vegetation Information System, Version 3.0.
1996/97 Land Use of Australia, Version 2.
Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database
Species Proﬁle and Threats (SPRAT) database
Australian Government Department of the
Environment and Water Resources, <
Additional areas of this group were identiﬁed
for further background on this series.