The Imposing, Sturdy Presence of Melaleuca leucadendra
As a large tree, Melaleuca leucadendra does not skip the attention of passersby in the coastal portions of the villages like Khlong Phrao Bay, Salak Khok, Khlong Son and Salak Phet. It is distinguishable by its thin papery layers of bark and bright green weeping foliage. By its imposing presence, it attracts several birds to hop on its branches. But the tree species is often sighted to be growing in the Koh Chang’s National Rainforests and in some littoral and riparian areas of the island.
Melaleuca leucadendra is experienced to reach the height between 10-30 meters high. The crown could reach the spread between 8-10 meters wide. The foliage which usually measures 20cm x 2 cm is described as simple, short stalked, long and narrow, leathery, tapering to a sharp point at the apex. It produces profuse white flowers especially during summer or spring. The nectar-rich, cream, fragrant flowers are borne in open to fairly dense bottlebrush-look spikes. Its small woody capsules contain fine brown seeds. The propagation of this tree can be done by removing the mature capsules from the branch and placing them in a paper bag in a warm dry position until capsules have released the seeds. Each capsule contains chaff and seed inside.
The bark of this tree species is often used by locals as roof covering for huts or utilized as firewood. Other would use it to wrap food in some traditional way of cooking. As known also by the name Tea Tree, its leaves are used as tea substitute when boiled with water. The leaves are good alternative medicine to cure cough and colds. The hardy trunk is good material for canoe building, furniture and cabinet making and construction because of its fine white timber wood. When it comes to tolerance, Melaleuca leucadendra can withstand strong winds, grows well in open to sunny location and thrives in poor soils condition.