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Have you seen New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium)?
Hawaii Early Detection Network Priority Pest for the island of Molokai

New Zealand Tea Tree flower detail
Shrub with many thin, erect stems
New Zealand Tea Tree detail
Flower and seed detail
New Zealand Tea Tree
White flowered variety growing wild in a Maui pasture
Images: Forest & Kim Starr

Identification: New Zealand tea tree, aka manuka, is a compact shrub or small tree grows to 6 m (20 ft) with many erect thin branches. Tea tree prefers sunlight and drier conditions. Lancelike, narrow (8-15 mm or 1/3-1/2 in wide) leaves are ALTERNATE in growth arrangement. Oil glands beneath the leaves produce an astringent "tea tree oil" smell. Small white to pink flowers grow at the end of small stems growing sideways of of main branches. Tiny 5 valved brown seeds (1.5 mm) are numerous.
Impacts: This prolific seeder can jump the garden fence and invade Hawaiian forests. This shrub is naturalizing in areas of the islands of Kauai, Oahu, and is particularly prevalent at Lanaihale, Lanai.
Dispersal Mechanism: New Zealand Tea Tree is native to New Zealand and Tasmania, but has been introduced throughout Hawaii as a garden plant and forestry planting. It is currently only known to grow in a few locations in Hawaii (see map). If you see it anywhere else- let someone know!

More information about this pest external link

New Zealand Tea Tree look-alikes:

Other Leptospermum species:
Other tea trees are used as landscape trees in Hawaii. Differences are subtle. See US Geological Survey plants of Hawaii Leptospermum spp. report external link for more details.

Leptospermum species

Leptospermum species

Pukiawe (Styphelia tameiameiae):
Pukiawe is a small, variable shrub that is native to Hawaii. This shrub ranges from coastal to alpine, though it is most prominent in higher elevations. The small lance like leaves often have a dull white hue. Flowers are white to pink, and smaller than the tea trees. Mature fruit is dark red, pink or white.


Pukiawe (Styphelia tameiameiae)

Last Updated: Monday January 30 2012. If you have any questions about the Hawaii Early Detection Network contact
Funding and support for this project was made possible by the Hawai'i Invasive Species Council, the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry assistance, and University of Hawai'i-Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit.