Bracelet Honey Myrtle

Melaleuca armillaris (Sol ex Gaertner) Smith

Family: Myrtaceae

Names:

Bracelet Honey Myrtle is so named because the flowers are wrapped around the stem like a bracelet with leaves above and below the inflorescence. Myrtle refers to its membership of the Myrtaceae family.

Summary:

Bracelet Honey Myrtle is a large, perennial, evergreen shrub to 5 m high with hard or corky bark. The leaves are alternate, somewhat leathery, linear, more or less flat, 12-25 mm long and 1 mm wide. The white (rarely pink) flowers are densely clustered into cylindric spikes 30-70 mm long. The individual flowers each have 5 small petals above a cup-shaped leathery base. The stamens are fused into 5 bundles, each bundle comprising 16-18 stamens. The fruits are closely clustered with each fruit 3-5 mm across and opening by 3 valves to release the tiny seeds.
It is native to eastern Australia and commonly grown in WA gardens but now considered a potential environmental weed. It flowers mainly in spring and summer.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

First leaves:

Leaves:

Alternate.
Stipules - None or tiny.
Petiole - 1-2 mm long.
Blade - Simple, linear, 12-25 mm long x 1 mm wide, dotted with oil glands, smooth edges, often leathery. 1 veined. Tip pointed and recurved. Sides parallel. Base tapering. Hairless.

Stems:

Up to 5000 mm tall but usually around 2500 mm.
Bark - Corky.

Flower head:

Many flowered dense spike 30-70 mm long, borne low in the branchlets. Axillary. Axis (rachis) hairless to woolly. 1 flower within each bract or floral leaf.

Flowers:

White or rarely pink.
Radially symmetrical. Stalkless. Floral tube is cup shaped.
Ovary - Inferior or almost so. 3 celled with few-many ovules per cell. Top is convex, almost always hairy, with a central depression around the style
Style - Simple, terminal, threadlike.
Stigma - Often very small.
Sepals - Connected to the floral tube. 5 free, small, persistent.
Petals - 5, free and overlapping, short egg shaped, 3-5 mm long,
Stamens - 16-18 per bundle, longer than petals, joined in 5 bundles opposite the petals. Claw 5-6 mm long.
Anthers - Versatile, not erect, 2 parallel cells, release pollen through lengthwise slit.

Fruit:

Dry, woody, shortly cylindrical capsule, 3-5 mm diameter with no stalk. Orifice 2-4 mm diameter. 3 valved. Seed released through slits at the top (midway between partitions) when ripe.

Seeds:

Tiny, usually many.

Roots:

Taproot with many laterals.

Key Characters:

Shrub.
Bark corky.
Leaves flat, 1-2 mm wide, alternate, 1 veined. with aromatic oils.
Leaves shortly petiolate.
Inflorescence axillary, borne low in the branchlets.
Flowers white to pink, sessile, actinomorphic (radially symmetrical)
Floral tube well developed.
5 Sepals, free, connected to the floral tube.
5 Petals free.
Ovary inferior or half inferior.
Ovules few to many per cell.
Stamens in 5 bundles opposite the petals, longer than the petals
Staminal claw >5 mm long.
Anthers not erect, versatile.
Fruit dry, dehiscent, 3 valved capsule.
Fruit included in the hypanthium or barely exerted.
Seeds linear.
Adapted from B.L. Rye, Peter Wilson.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.
May regrow from the stump if damaged.

Flowering times:

Summer in NSW.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

May regrow from stump.

Hybrids:

None.

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed. Many will coppice when the stem is cut.
Tend to hold their seed in the canopy.

Origin and History:

Native to eastern Australia.

Distribution:

NSW, QLD, SA, TAS (Flinders Island?), VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Often on headlands and coastal ranges.

Climate:

Temperate. Mediterranean.

Soil:

Plant Associations:

Heath communities.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Ornamental, gums, fuel, shelter.

Detrimental:

Not recorded as being naturalised in WA but of concern to local environmental groups.
Weedy and naturalised in parts of Victoria.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Manual removal is usually effective.
As Bracelet Honey Myrtle has not yet been confirmed as naturalised in WA, confirmation of its identity should be obtained before destroying plants.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Burning followed by bull dosing or chaining is usually the most cost effective for large stands.
Individual trees can be sawn off close to ground level and the stump painted immediately with neat glyphosate(450g/L) or a mix of 1 part Access® in 60 parts diesel.
Small trees can be spray overall until just wet with a mix of 100 mL glyphosate(450g/L) plus 1 g metsulfuron(600g/kg) plus 25 mL Pulse® in 10 L water. Triclopyr and triclopyr plus picloram mixes are also effective.
Mechanical removal is also effective.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Unlikely because it is an Australian native species.

Related plants:

Albany Paperbark (Melaleuca croxfordiae) has papery bark, generally longer leaves (25-40 mm long) and globular flower clusters.
Broom Honeymyrtle or Broombush (Melaleuca uncinata)
Chenille Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca huegelii)
Desert Paperbark (Melaleuca glomerata)
Graceful Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca radula)
Grey Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca incana)
Kangaroo Paperbark (Melaleuca halmaturorum)
Moonah (Melaleuca preissiana)
Pink Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca erubescens)
River Paperbark (Melaleuca trichostachya)
Robin Redbreast Bush (Melaleuca lateritia)
Rottnest Teatree (Melaleuca lanceolata) - Weedy and has escaped from plantings. Used for honey, pollen, fence posts, shelter belts and is salt tolerant.
Rough Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca scabra)
Saltwater Paperbark (Melaleuca cuticularis)
Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia) - Weedy and invasive.
Swamp Paperbark or Sandhill Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca adnata)
Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla) differs in its papery bark, needle-like leaves and smaller flower spikes at 20-30 mm long.
Tangling Melaleuca (Melaleuca cardiophylla)
Melaleuca decussata - Weedy.
Melaleuca diosmifolia - Weedy.
Melaleuca hypericifolia - Weedy, invasive in Victoria.
Melaleuca nesophila - Weedy and has escaped from plantings.
Melaleuca parvistaminea - Weedy.
Melaleuca pentagona - Weedy and has escaped from plantings.

Plants of similar appearance:

There are several WA Melaleuca species with which it could be confused including:
Albany Paperbark (Melaleuca croxfordiae) differs in its papery bark, generally longer leaves (25-40 mm long) and globular flower clusters.
Broombush (Melaleuca uncinata) differs in its needle-like leaves and globular yellow flower spikes.
Grey Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca incana) differs in having greyish and often broader leaves and more or less globular flower clusters.
Moonah or Modong (Melaleuca preissiana) differs in having papery bark and interrupted leafy flower spikes.
Robin Redbreast Bush (Melaleuca lateritia) differs in its scarlet to crimson flowers and larger fruits at 7-8 mm across.
Rottnest Teatree (Melaleuca lanceolata) also has interrupted leafy flower spikes.
Rough Honeymyrtle (Melaleuca scabra) differs in its needle-like leaves and pink to purple globular flower clusters. Melaleuca pentagona differs in having pungent-tipped leaves and pink to purple globular flower clusters.
Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla) differs in its papery bark, needle-like leaves and smaller flower spikes at 20-30 mm long.
Agonis spp.
Beaufortia spp.
Callistemon spp.
Calytrix spp.
Chamelaucium spp.
Darwinia spp.
Eucalyptus spp.
Kunzea spp.
Leptospermum spp.
Melaleuca spp.
Verticordia spp.

References:

Bodkin, F. (1986). Encyclopaedia Botanica. (Angus and Robertson, Australia).

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Harden, Gwen J. (1991). Flora of NSW. (Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney). Volume 2. P178. Diagram.

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #639.1.

Moore, J.H. and Wheeler, J.R. (2008). Southern Weeds and their Control. (Second Edition). Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. P190-191. Photos.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.