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Melaleuca cajuputi Powell

Family Name: Myrtaceae
Synonyms: Melaleuca leucadendron, Melaleuca quinquenervia, Melaleuca leucadendra
Common Name: Gelam, Paper Bark Tree, Kayu Puteh, Tea Tree, Paper-bark, Cajeput, Cajeput Oil Tree, White Tree, White Wood, 白千层
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Bee Attracting Plants Bird-Attracting Native to Singapore Herb & Spice Coastal Roadside Tree / Palm Ornamental Flowers Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular


Native Distribution Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, south-western Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia.
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status 1 Native to Singapore (Presumed Nationally Extinct (NE))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is an evergreen tree up to 40 m tall.
Trunk The trunk is spongy to the touch. Bark is white and flaky.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves have leathery leaf blades that are elliptic to lance-shaped, greyish-green, and 3-12.5 by 1.1-3.75 cm, with distinct longitudinal veins.
Flowers Its flowering shoot is a densely-flowered single spike, or 2-3 together, with each being 3.5-9 by 2-2.5 cm. Its tiny flowers have white, greenish-white or cream petals.
Fruits Its fruits are cup-shaped to round, 3-3.5 by 3.5-4 mm, and contain many tiny seeds.
Habitat Mainly found in low swampy and regularly flooded coastal plains, often behind the true mangrove zone where it may form pure stands or mixed stands.
Associated Fauna It is a known food plant for the caterpillars of the atlas moth (Attacus atlas), Clethrogyna turbata, and Strepsicrates rhothia. The flowers are often visited by the olive-backed sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) and crimson sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja).
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Greek "melas", black. Greek "leukos", white, referring to the colours on the bark of the trunk and branches. Malay "kayu", wood. Malay "putih" white, referring to the white papery bark of the species.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice : The dried fruit are sold as spice.)
Medicinal ( The leaves are used to distill 'cajeputi oil' or 'tea tree oil' which has medicinal and antiseptic uses such as medical ointments. It is used to treat gout by the Burmese. The Indochinese use it for it for rheumatism and joint pains, as well as pain killer. In Malaysia, it is used in the treatment of colic and cholera. In Indonesia, the oil is used externally for burns, colic, cramps, earache, headache, skin diseases, toothache and wounds. Internally, it is used to induce sweating as a stimulant and as an antispasmodic. In Philippines, the leaves are used to treat asthma.)
Timber & Products ( The timber is hard and has a uniform texture and is popular for use in caving, cabinet work, boat building and fire wood. The bark flakes are used for insulation and for stuffing pillows.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Waterlogged Soils
Landscape Uses Roadside Tree / Palm, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Riverine, Pond / Lake / River
Species record last updated on: 16 May 2019.