This small-medium tree has attractive narrow foliage and white papery bark. It is drought-resistant and quite hardy, although it can be affected by frost. An excellent garden and street tree to 12 m tall, with many cultivars. Mostly grows in low-lying river flats and damp creeks, rarely in dry areas; north from the Victorian-NSW border to about Bundaberg.

A characteristic and widespread tree in remnant dry rainforest. Seed easy to collect, stays on the tree for a long time but often high up.

Leaves narrow-elliptic, mostly 6-9 cm long, 5-14 mm wide, attenuate at both ends, apex acute; midrib, marginal and lateral veins distinct. New growth purplish pink.

A very large specimen in remnant scrub. A Gum Vine of considerable age is living on this tree, which has a girth of about 1m at the base. Photo: Robert Whyte

Bark

With ideal conditions will grow up to 1200 mm per year, and form an excellent weeping canopy within 5 years. Said to be prey to Saw Fly attack.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Flowers

Flower-spikes are generally white or greenish but pink, red and mauve forms can be found. The red cultivar is called “Rubra”.

Hostplant for sapsucking bug Chionaspis candida.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Habit

This is a relatively small specimen compared to the giant shown above. The surrounding trees include Alphitonia, Grey Gum, Jagera, Brush Box, Guioia, Rapanea and Red Kamala.

Photo: Robert Whyte

Confusion
Melaleuca saligna and Callistemon salignus (now Melaleuca salicina) are different species. Both have papery bark and “bottlebrush” flowers but in other respects they are different, especially in the arrangement of their stamens. Those in Melaleuca saligna are joined in a bundle or “claw” – those in Callistemon salignus (now Melaleuca salicina) are separate from each other. The natural range of Melaleuca saligna is the Cape York Peninsula. The range of Callistemon salignus (now Melaleuca salicina) is from about Bundaberg south to Nowra in New South Wales. Thanks to Geoff Derrin for this information.