even though it came from australia, paperbark tree is very common in hong kong. thanks to the colonial government which introduced this tree species to the city and wildly planted them around reservoirs, country parks and roadside.
among hikers and country park goers, the paperbark forest at shing mun reservoir is one of the top sights of this city rural scene.
but i seldom hear common hongkongers mention this species even though i am pretty sure they recognize this tree (no matter they know the name or not) as it is so unique in the appearance.
this tree is so commonly seen in hong kong, it worth us knowing about and treasuring better.
paperbark tree has a long flowering period. but as it is really booming around town right now, let’s start the appreciation. colour of the blooms is relatively plain, cream; yet it is hard to resist the cuteness. once blossoming, trees are happily dangling with many of these little bottle-brush, really christmasy. the flowers are arranged in spikes on the end of branches. each spike contains as many as more than a dozen groups of flowers in three.
paperbark tree actually do us a lot of goods, for one of medical usage and that mainly comes from its leaves. the leaves are used to distill ‘cajeputi’ or ‘tea-tree oil’ which has medicinal and antiseptic uses. what adds to me is the look of the leaves. i love the neat appearance, leaves are arranged alternately with gracious spaces in between; each blade is lance in shape with clear longitudinal veins running along.
of course we cannot forget its bark. when the bark ages it thins down and turn papery. this actually is a protection mechanism as it is an australian native. natural forest fire always happen there. when fire attacks these papery peels will be burnt leaving the living bark inside protected.
one more thing about paperbark tree, the trunk will go more and more twisted as it grows older and older.
白千層 paperbark tree (melaleuca cajuputi subsp. cumingiana.) – kingdom: plantae | (unranked): angiosperms | (unranked): eudicots | (unranked): rosids 薔薇類 | order: myrtales 桃金娘目 | family: myrtaceae 桃金娘科 | genus: melaleuca 白千層屬 | species: m. cajuputi subsp. cumingiana. wiki