News and Events

Botanical Buzz - Leptospermum

Friday, January 09, 2015

Botanical delights come in all shapes, sizes, colours and textures in the Sensory Gardens of the Dubbo Regional Botanic Garden.

Towering bamboo (Bambusa sp.) sway gracefully above the heads of visitors while the velvety lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantine) crouch close to the earth within the reach of fascinated children.

The magnificent Pierre de Ronsard roses named after the sixteenth century French "prince of poets" bloom soft and lovely about the arbour while the Yellow Buttons (Helichrysum ramosissimum) peek cheekily from below the wisteria.

There is so much to see that it is worth walking around the gardens at least twice each visit to reduce the likelihood of missing something interesting and beautiful.

The delicate and abundant pink flowers of the Leptospermum Rudolph (tea tree) are certainly worth a second look.

Leptospermum is a genus of shrubs and small trees in the myrtle family Myrtaceae. Most species are endemic to Australia. The leaves are evergreen, sharp-tipped and small. The attractive flowers are up to 3 cm in diameter, with five white, pink or red petals.

The outstanding flower displays of some Leptospermum species make them a popular choice for gardens.

Leptospermums have a long history of medicinal use. Australian settlers soaked the leaves of some species in boiling water to make a herbal tea rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C). It is said that Captain James Cook brewed a tea using leaves from Leptospermum scoparium (tea tree or manuka) to prevent scurvy among his crews.

The famous manuka honey is produced by introduced European honey bees (Apis mellifera) after they have feasted on the flowers of Leptospermum scoparium and/or Leptospermum polygalifolium. Leptospermum polygalifolium grows in the Biodiversity Garden.

Manuka honey is a very viscous, dark cream to dark brown coloured honey which has been credited with antibacterial and antifungal properties.

The treasures of the Sensory Gardens make visits rewarding for everyone.

                                                                                                                                By Ian McAlister & Karen Hagan