Moonah

Moonah

Common name Moonah
Botanical name Melaleuca lanceolata
Family Myrtaceae
Natural range all over Australia
Mature height to 7m
Form Large domed canopy, twisted trunk
Likes Well-drained soils
Dislikes Being overtaken by understorey species
Where to plant Coastal regions
Known for Very long-lived ‘Teatree’

Digging into the Roots: The Remarkable Melaleuca lanceolata
Why is the Moonah So Common in Australia?

Melaleuca lanceolata, lovingly called the Moonah, is part of the Myrtaceae family and grows naturally all over Australia. Towering up to a height of 7 metres, it displays a large domed canopy with a twisted trunk. The Moonah prefers well-drained soils and can be found thriving in coastal regions.

The All-Australian Tale of the Rottnest Island Teatree

You might not be aware, but the Moonah goes by other names too, including the Rottnest Island Teatree. This sturdy specimen flourishes in poor, sandy, and salty soils, undeterred by the relentless sea breezes. No wonder it’s celebrated as a long-lived tree! Some Moonah trees on the east coast have even passed the 300-year mark.

Moonah in Victoria: A Testament to Resilience

In Victoria, the Moonah’s adaptability extends to the northern regions, near Mildura, and towards the dry border regions with South Australia. However, it’s worth remembering that even the hardiest trees have vulnerabilities. Land-clearing and invasive species have had a significant impact on what used to be flourishing Moonah woodlands. This has led to their protection in regions like the Surf Coast Shire and Geelong.

Why Do Moonah Trees Seem to Twist and Turn?

Aging Moonah trees often exhibit a spreading, twisted form, with branches even resting on the ground. As a member of the ‘paperbarks’ family, you can spot them by the layers of grey bark that peel away. Their bushy growth pattern creates a secure environment for local wildlife, offering birds and mammals a safe haven.

The Cream-Coloured Charms of the Moonah

From early summer until March, the Moonah dresses up in creamy-coloured flowers. This extended flowering period is a treat for Australia’s many nectar and honey-eating creatures – from wattlebirds and lorikeets to sugar gliders and possums.

Can You Identify a Moonah?

One unique characteristic of a Moonah tree is its woody capsule that appears after flowering. If you look closely, each rounded capsule boasts a five-pointed ‘crown’, while other Melaleucas often bear only four points.

Growing Moonah Trees at Home: A Simple Guide

Moonah trees are an excellent addition to home gardens. They offer useful windbreaks and age with character. One unique feature is that they do well as a single row planting, unlike many other Australian natives that need the support of neighbouring trees and shrubs.

Interesting Facts About the Moonah Tree
  1. Despite their coastal affinity, there are multiple examples of Moonah trees growing inland.
  2. In areas like the Surf Coast Shire and Geelong, Moonah trees are heavily protected due to deforestation threats.
  3. The Moonah tree is also known as the “Rottnest Island Teatree.”
Links for Further Reading
  1. Moonah Tree Distribution Across Australia
  2. Moonah Trees and the Myrtaceae Family
  3. Land-clearing and its Impact on Moonah Trees
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