Leptospermum brevipes

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Planted in the our Mediterranean Garden, this specimen is one of 87 species in the genus Leptospermum, which is a member of the huge Myrtaceae family containing more than 5,000 species found in 130 -180 genera. (Apparently there are new Myrtaceae members discovered yearly).

Imagine a small multi trunked tree with graceful branches that support an umbrella of fine, coppery red foliage, and are topped off in autumn with a frosting of small white flowers, and Leptospermum brevipes would be that beauty.

When first planted in 2005, it was dwarfed by the Phormium ‘Platt’s Black’ which is now completely shaded by this fine specimen.  Unbelievable! This plant has only been in the Gardens for six years and has already leapt to 15 feet tall and wide.

From weeping groundcovers to clipped hedges or small trees, most members of this genus, known also as Tea Tree, make useful ornamentals. In fact, Leptospermum scoparium cultivars are commonly seen in coastal gardens.

There is a look-a-like to L. brevipes with longer copper-burgundy leaves, and larger flowers -

Leptospermum ‘Dark Shadows’ has become the darling of new cultivars.  Interesting to note that L. ‘Dark Shadows’ does not have brevipes parentage. It has the longer leaves and larger flowers of L. macrocarpum ‘Copper Spray’ which popped a chance seedling of ‘Dark Shadows’. Some lucky plant nut had a good eye.

Both of these lovely trees are perfect as specimens in small gardens but a word to the wise, do not try to clip or prune the height. You will lose the graceful weeping habit. Remove whole trunks if the tree becomes too broad.

Ethnobotanically, Leptostopermum contains leptospermone which is effective for treating parasitic worms and is used as an insecticide. The bark also contains additional chemical compounds and its infusions are used for aches and pains (also having a sedating effect) as well as being useful for the treatment of dandruff and skin infections.

It is said that Tea Tree teas were used by Captain Cook, but today the important tea tree oil comes from Melaluca alternifloia.

Come view the sprinkling of white flowers on Leptospermum brevipes in the Mediterranean Garden and visit the Gardens Retail Nursery where Leptospermum ‘Dark Shadows’ is for sale.  Don’t forget the plant sale coming up on September 24th and 25th and the Members Only Preview Night on September 23rd from 5:30 to 7:00pm.