|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Leptospermum (Greek, slender seed). Myrtaceae. Ornamental woody plants grown chiefly for their copiously produced flowers and also for the neat myrtle-like foliage.
Evergreen shrubs or small trees: leaves alternate, small, rigid, entire, nerveless or 1-3-nerved: flowers short-stalked or sessile, solitary or 2—3, axillary or at the end of short branchlets; sepals short and broad; petals roundish, clawed, spreading; stamens many; ovary inferior, enclosed in the calyx-tube, 3-10-celled; style short: fruits a loculicidal caps., usually protruding above the calyx-tube; seeds numerous, linear, or few and compressed and winged.—There are about 25 species mostly in Australia, few in New Zealand and in the Malay Archipelago.
The leptospermums in cultivation are upright shrubs with slender branches densely clothed with small rigid foliage and covered in spring with numerous white, rarely pink or carmine flowers 1/2 to 3/4 inch across; the capsules are small and insignificant. They are cultivated somewhat outdoors in California, or in the North in the greenhouse and treated like heath and other Cape and Australian hardwood plants. Planted outdoors they stand drought well and L. laevigatum has been employed by the hundred thousands in the reclamation of the moving sands on the San Francisco promontory where the Golden Gate Park is now established. For greenhouse culture, L. scoparium var. bullatum is an exceptionally good plant for those who can grow heaths. It is far better than L. laevigatum.
Cuttings taken from well-ripened wood in the fall or from the young growth in summer root freely under the same treatment given erica. For a potting soil, use two parts leaf-mold and one of sand. Plunge the pots outside during the summer in the full sunlight. The plants make a straggling growth, unless trimmed into shape. By fall they will be covered with buds, but it is impossible to force them into bloom for Christmas. Keep the plants in a cool house with ericas or azaleas until the latter part of February or March, and then give them a little more heat, say 55° to 60°. The plants will soon be a mass of white flowers L. scoparium var. bullatum does not grow rapidly, but, like epacris, as it grows older it makes fine specimens. It has tough foliage, stands much hard usage, and when in bloom attracts plant-buyers. It deserves greater popularity. Propagation is by seeds sown in spring and treated like those of erica or rhododendron, but usually by cuttings of young wood in May under glass, or of nearly mature wood in autumn and kept in winter in temperate house. CH
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Pests and diseases
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- L. flexuosum, Spreng. (Agonis flexuosa, Schauer). Tall shrub or tree, to 40 ft.: branchlets at first pubescent, finally glabrous: leaves lanceolate or linear-lanceolate. 3-nerved, 1/4 - 1/2 in. long: flowers white, Over 1/3 in. across, in axillary heads: calyx pubescent, stamens 20. Auatral.—This species is now generally referred to Agonis which differs from Leptospermum chiefly in the capitate infl. and in the cells of the ovary having only 2-6 ovules ascending from a basal placenta.
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963