Widely available, highly desirable, and powerfully potent. Even those who aren’t plantophiles sing the praises of Tea Tree. If you were to distill Tea Tree’s essence into a single word it would be recovery. It’s woodsy, medicinal scent  has been synonymous with healing us since our inception. Tea Tree heals all kinds of trauma, both physical and emotional. It is a deeply healing gift from nature. 

Melaleuca alternifolia

Tea Tree is one of the most popular essential oils on the market. There's a good reason for that. Tea Tree has many different chemical components and this is the reason it is such a versatile oil. The components Tea Tree oil contains produces a highly antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral,  anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory potion that is truly magic. It  is a must have in natural first aid kits. In fact, this native to Australia was a  standard issue in Australian Army kits during WWII and earned the nickname “The Wonder From Down Under” by other nations military units. It was so vital to the Australian army that even the producers and the cutters of Tea Tree were exempt from military service until enough essential oil had been accumulated to accommodate the military's needs.

In Australia there are over 300 species of Melaleuca. Melaleuca alternifolia, however,  is the only species that produces an essential oil. The majestic Tea Tree is an evergreen that can reach up to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It has a very distinct pale bark that has a papery texture. Its needle-like leaves are aromatic, and feathery. After a couple of years Tea Tree will produce fluffy white flowers in the summer months. The Aborigonal people have used Tea Tree forever and make tea out of the leaves. This is where it gets its name. Tea Tree, however, should not be used internally.

Fun Facts

Explorer James Cook named the Tea Tree after he saw Aboriginals making tea from the leaves.  

In Australia tea tree is approved for use as a complementary medicine. 

The word Melaleuca is derived from Greek root words melas, meaning black, which refers to the trunks when blackened by fire, and leucos, meaning white, which refers to the white-barked upper branches.


How to Grow

Tea Tree likes it warm and wet. It grows wild in the tropical and subtropical swampy areas of Australia. Even though they like it moist at all times, Tea Tree is not happy being wet. When you plant it make sure you have it in well draining soil.  If you live in a warm area, the Tea Tree will grow very quickly for you. It tends to grow a little slower for those in colder climates. Ideally Tea Tree would be planted in USDA zone 8 or above. Tea Tree also likes sunshine. To make it happy make sure to plant it in full sun. 


You can start Tea Tree from seed. Just as mature Tea Trees like it sunny and wet, seeds sprout the best in bright and moist conditions. You can sprout them in an unsealed plastic baggie of sand and peat moss. Wet the sand a little bit and leave the bag outside in the sun. They should germinate in about 14 days. Tea Tree can be susceptible to fungal infections during this period, so be mindful of that. 

Most commonly, however, Tea Tree is propagated  from cuttings. From December to about March take about an 8 inch cutting from a freshly watered plant. Remove all but the top two leaves from the stem. Apply rooting hormone on the cut end if you wish and plant in a sandy mixture in a sunny spot. Cuttings take about 7 to 8 weeks to root. 

Due to the high demand of oil most Tea Trees are currently farmed on plantations. In 2020, the global Tea Tree Oil market size was USD 39 million. It is forecast to grow to 53 million US in 2027.  These plants, however,  are susceptible to harmful insects. Thank you monoculture. When you purchase Tea Tree oil, organic is best.

Tea Tree Card

Properties of Tea Tree Essential Oil:

Essential Oil Facts

As essential oils have become more accepted by the public, the use of Tea Tree Oil has increased significantly. You can find Tea Tree oil in everything from hand sanitizers, to shampoos, to household cleaners. Quantity, however, does not equal quality all of the time. Tea Tree is something you need to buy from a reputable dealer. Cheaper versions of the essential oils may have more skin irritating constituents in them. While Tea Tree is a safe oil to use, sensitization can occur. If your shampoo, soap, deodorant, household cleaners, and air fresheners all contain Tea Tree you may become sensitized  to it. Don’t indulge in too much of a good thing.  That being said, this is one of the few oils that people can use neat on the skin. Be mindful of allergies and use sparingly

Antibiotic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, diaphoretic, expectorant, immune stimulant, anti-parasitic, anti-infectious, decongestant

Integumentary System:

Tea Tree is a MUST have in any natural first aid kit. Being anti-viral, bacterial, fungal, and anti-inflammatory means Tea Tree makes angry skin happy. It is a good disinfectant for minor cuts, abrasions, scrapes, and burns. Like I said, you can use it very sparingly, neat on the skin. Its antiviral nature makes it a good treatment for cold sores, and even warts. The antifungal properties are helpful in treating athlete’s foot, ringworm, and some toenail fungus.  Tea Tree is also a good addition in deodorant. Bacteria that causes body odor are no match for Tea Tree. 

Tea Tree is just as good for your hair as it is for your skin. Some studies have shown it improves hair growth, and helps prevent dandruff. As an added bonus lice hate Tea Tree. Mix the essential oil with some coconut oil for a great homemade lice treatment. 

Respiratory System

The bug busting properties Tea Tree has isn’t limited to your skin and hair. Upper respiratory bugs also quail at the power of Tea Tree. A steam inhalation of Tea Tree makes an excellent treatment for sinusitis and bronchitis. Tea Tree is also an excellent complementary medicine for cold and flu treatments.  Its anti-inflammatory nature also eases some symptoms of asthma. 


Tea Tree is a potent purifier. In a diffuser Tea Tree makes a wonderful air purifier. You can also add the essential oil to your household surface cleaners to add bonus disinfecting powers. It is also a great addition to hand sanitizers.  Many of the commercially available ones contain Tea Tree oil.


Tea Tree heals trauma, both physical and emotional. It is good at bringing up the underlying trauma and easing you through the process of healing. Tea Tree is both relaxing and renewing. It can help ease symptoms of mood swings, panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Its medicinal and herbaceous scent can help you recover from shock.

Energetic properties

Tea Tree banishes negativity. It also builds strength and confidence. Enhances creativity, fosters spiritual growth. Tea Tree protects you and  makes a safe space where you can be vulnerable enough to open up completely. 


Do not ingest Tea Tree essential oil. Dilute before use; for external use only. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.

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