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Melaleuca alternifolia

Melaleuca alternifolia

(tea tree)

Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) will thrive in any soil but it needs full sun and a deeply dug and well-composted hole in which to begin its life. It will grow up to seven metres in height if left free but the secret is to cut it back to knee height every two or three years. This is what keeps it softly vigorous, tidy and attractive. It has a paper bark and the bark is used medicinally too, to bind over sores, wounds, corns and cracked heels. An easy-to-make lotion of leaves, sprigs and pieces of bark is a superb wash or spray for bites, rashes, scratches, heat rash, itchiness, fungal infections, acne and oily skin, and can be used as a rinse for oily hair and athletes foot.

Tea tree cleanser

The leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, the ‘tea tree’, have refreshing, healing and cleansing properties and, as a bonus, they keep the mosquitoes away, so grow one of your own! Simmer 1½ cups tea tree sprigs in 1-cup natural aqueous cream for 20 minutes (use a double boiler), then strain out the sprigs and store the cream in a glass jar. Three teaspoons of vitamin E oil mixed into the cream will help preserve it. Natural aqueous cream also makes a good base for herbal moisturizing creams and scrubs for problem skin.

Article by Margaret Roberts
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