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TREE NUMBER 22.
SOAPY TEA TREE
Also known as the Paper Barked Tea Tree and White Leaf Melaleuca, these common names refer to the dense, fine white to silver hairs on leaves, particularly on early growth and the thick, layered whitish bark. The wood was favoured by First Nation people because of its strength and resistance to rot.
The species occurs along stream edges but also forms groves in gilgai (melon hole) wetlands on heavy clay soils and can reach a height of 25 metres. This tree and others of the same species in Bell Park define the lines of the sand and clay swales which are, although altered, still the main drainage lines between the rocky hills and the rear dunes of Fisherman’ s Beach.
Soapy Tea Tree flowers briefly in early Spring with an abundance of dusty cream blossoms. The scented flowers are highly attractive to wildlife such as flying fox, butterflies and honeyeaters but the musty smell can be a little overpowering for humans.
Look for the small fig seedling that has established in the burl on this tree and then look along the row of tea trees and note how many have been damaged or destroyed by strangler figs.
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