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Tea tree

Melaleuca alternifolia

The Tea Tree ( Melaleuca alternifolia ), native to Australia, belongs to the Myrtaceae family. It is a bushy, upright, evergreen tree that can grow up to seven metres tall and has small lanceolate leaves. Its fruits are small capsules containing elongated seeds and its five-petalled flowers are very fragrant.
This large shrub, which has nothing to do with the famous beverage despite its misleading name, was discovered by naturalists accompanying Cook on a voyage down the Endeavour River (1772-1775). They named it after the fact that they used it as a substitute for tea, finding it fragrant and invigorating.

Main aromatic molecules: Monoterpenols, including terpineol-4 and α terpineol, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpene oxide including 1,8-cineole or eucalyptol.
Family: Myrtaceae.
Producing organs: Leaves.
Yield: 1 kg of essential oil per 100 kg of leaves.
Equivalence: 1 ml → 34 drops (dosage calculated for a calibrated dropper European Pharmacopoeia).


Skin application

Oral route

Respiratory route

Why call a tree that has nothing to do with tea ”tea tree”? It was discovered in Australia by the naturalists accompanying Cook on his second voyage in the Endeavour (1772-1775), when it was given this misleading name. Did its leaves actually replace the tea that the great navigator’s crew lacked so direly? Another version says that an Australian lake where ill people who bathed in it were healed was surrounded by beneficial trees whose leaves fell into the water and infused under the sun. Whatever the truth, the healing virtues used by the Aboriginals were so obvious that the soldiers from the Second World War Australian expeditionary force included tea tree in their field pharmacy.


Extracts from the book ’Aromatherapia – All about essential oils’, by Isabelle Pacchioni, watercolors by Patrick MORIN, Aroma Thera Editions . Extracts from the book ’41 essential oils essential for treating yourself differently’ and ’48 essential oils which every home needs to be healthy’ by Isabelle Delaleu and Isabelle Pacchioni, Publications of the Mandadori France group. Botanical illustrations by Agathe Haevermans.

The properties, benefits and method of use are given for information; they cannot in any case constitute or replace medical information that only health professionals can provide. For any use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, please consult your GP or pharmacist.

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