Metrosideros hyssopifolia Cav.
Common Name: Flax-Leaved Paper-Bark
Flax-leaved paper-bark is an evergreen shrub growing to about 10 metres tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of essential oil. It is also sometimes grown as a hedge.
Australia - Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory.
Wet and swampy places near the coast, also on the coastal plateaux, often on shale[
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Flax-leaved paper-bark is found from the warm temperate zone to the tropics, growing in both semi-arid and moist climates. Plants are said to tolerate occasional lows to about -5°c[
Requires a fertile, well-drained moisture retentive lime-free soil in full sun[
]. Prefers a soil that does not contain much nitrogen[
Plants can be difficult to establish[
The flowers are fragrant[
Seed takes about 12 months to develop on the plant, the woody seed capsules persist for 3 or more years[
Any pruning is best done after the plants have flowered with the intention of maintaining a compact habit[
Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
An essential oil obtained from the fresh leaves and twigs is antibacterial[
]. It is used in the treatment of headaches[
One report says that the oil is very similar to tea tree oil, obtained from M. alternifolia[
]. The uses of that oil are as follows:-
Tea tree, and in particular its essential oil, is one of the most important natural antiseptics and it merits a place in every medicine chest[
]. It is useful for treating stings, burns, wounds and skin infections of all kinds[
An essential oil obtained from the leaves and twigs is strongly antiseptic, diaphoretic and expectorant[
]. It stimulates the immune system and is effective against a broad range of bacterial and fungal infections[
]. Internally, it is used in the treatment of chronic and some acute infections, notably cystitis, glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome[
]. It is used externally in the treatment of thrush, vaginal infections, acne, athlete's foot, verrucae, warts, insect bites, cold sores and nits[
]. It is applied neat to verrucae, warts and nits, but is diluted with a carrier oil such as almond for other uses[
The oil is non-irritant[
]. Another report says that high quality oils contain about 40% terpinen-4-ol, which is well tolerated by the skin and 5% cineol which is irritant. However, in poor quality oils the levels of cineol can exceed 10% and in some cases up to 65%[
The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Antiseptic'[
Plants can be used for hedging in climates that are suitable for them[
An essential oil from the leaves has a nutmeg scent[
]. It is used medicinally and in soaps[
Wood - very durable in damp ground or wet conditions[
Seed - surface sow in spring or autumn onto a pot of permanently moist soil in a warm greenhouse. Emerse in 5cm of water and do not water from overhead. Grow on until the seedlings are 0.5cm tall then remove from the water and pot up a week later. Seedlings are liable to damp off when grown this way, sowing the seed thinly, good ventilation and hygiene are essential for success[
]. Grow the plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and then plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors.
Cuttings of half-ripe lateral shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame[
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