Drouin appears to have two principal species of street Paperbarks, the Prickly-leafed Paperbark, (Melaleuca stypheloides) and the Flax-leafed Paperbark, (M. linarifolia).
|M. linarifolia Lardner Rd|
|M. stypheloides Lardner Rd|
There are a couple of hundred species of Melaleucas and nearly all of them are endemic to Australia. The Swamp Paperbark, M. ericoides, is the ‘wild’ species that can be seen in the wet gullies of the foothills throughout West Gippsland. Melaleucas are close relatives to the Callistemons or Bottlebrushes.
‘Melaleuca’ means black and white, referring to the appearance of the trunk at certain times, (or maybe the first settlers saw the blackened lower half of the trunks after fire?). Melaleucas are tolerant of dry and wet conditions but generally enjoy some periodic inundation of their roots. They are good species for wet areas but their roots are renowned for entering sewerage lines and drains.
Paperbarks make good street trees for their ability to tolerate pruning and if there is sufficient moisture in the soil, they can be deep-rooted, allowing grass to grow right up to their trunks.
At the moment, Drouin’s M. linarifolia are in flower but the M. stypheloides are yet to flower fully. Understandably, one common name for the Flax-leafed Paperbark is ‘Snow in Summer’. Paperbark flowers are high in nectar content and attract many species of insects and birds. The dense foliage provides good roosting habitat for birds and many ‘remote’ Paperbarks will often contain bird and possum nests.
|M. stypheloides not quite out yet|
Of course, Paperbarks are named for their obvious bark which can often provide cover for various insects, spiders and reptiles.
There are many ‘versions’ of Paperbarks now propagated in nurseries and it is not difficult to select a variety to suit most gardens. “One man’s weed is another’s wildflower” – introduced Melaleucas have invaded huge areas of the Florida Wetlands!