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Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Tea tree

Melaleuca alternifolia

The Tea Tree ( Melaleuca alternifolia ), native to Australia, belongs to the Myrtaceae family. It is a bushy, upright, evergreen tree that can grow up to seven metres tall and has small lanceolate leaves. Its fruits are small capsules containing elongated seeds and its five-petalled flowers are very fragrant.
This large shrub, which has nothing to do with the famous beverage despite its misleading name, was discovered by naturalists accompanying Cook on a voyage down the Endeavour River (1772-1775). They named it after the fact that they used it as a substitute for tea, finding it fragrant and invigorating.

Main aromatic molecules: Monoterpenols, including terpineol-4 and α terpineol, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpene oxide including 1,8-cineole or eucalyptol.
Family: Myrtaceae.
Producing organs: Leaves.
Yield: 1 kg of essential oil per 100 kg of leaves.
Equivalence: 1 ml → 34 drops (dosage calculated for a calibrated dropper European Pharmacopoeia).

  • Bath Bath
  • Skin application Skin application
  • Oral route Oral route
  • Respiratory route Respiratory route

Main properties

Essential oil of tea tree is strongly anti-infectious, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It is also anti-viral and acts against influenza, dengue, chikungunya and eruptive diseases of childhood. It treats through its broad spectrum all mouth (mouth ulcers, gingivitis), ENT and bronchial domain (sinusitis, pharyngitis, rhinitis, tracheitis and bronchitis) and digestive system (enteritis and enterocolitis) infections. It is also used successfully for all cutaneous infections, parasites and fungi (acne, cuts, herpes, psoriasis, Herpes zoster, warts, dry patches, cutaneous, genital, skin fold mycoses, athletes foot, etc.) It also has a decongestant and tonifying action.

Find all the virtues and uses of tea tree essential oil in our tips section.


Acne, wounds, athlete's foot (skin fungus)
Put 1 drop of pure tea tree essential oil on the skin, pimples, point by point, 3 times a day until improvement. For sensitive skin, you can dilute in 1 drop of neutral vegetable oil. From 12 years old.

Sore throat
Mix 2 drops of each of these essential oils: tea tree and thyme
linalool + 3 drops of macadamia vegetable oil and massage the ganglion chains on each side of the neck, 3 times a day. From 7 years of age.

ENT infection
Pour 2 or 3 drops of tea tree essential oil on a handkerchief and breathe. From the age of 7.


The genus includes more than eighty species which grow especially in Australia, but also in New Caledonia, New Zealand, Borneo, Java and Sumatra.


The essential oil of tea tree has a strong turpentine and camphor-like odour, even though it does not contain any camphor.


The essential oil of tea tree is extracted by steam distillation of leaves with a yield of 1%. 1 kilogram of essential oil for one hundred kilograms of plant.


The main active components of essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia are monoterpenols (48%): terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, monoterpenes (40%) and sesquiterpenes (10%).

Precautions for use

The essential oil of tea tree which is very well tolerated should preferably be used diluted, especially in sensitive subjects.

Do not use in: pregnant or breast-feeding women, children under the age of three years, persons with kidney problems, persons allergic to one of the components (limonene), persons with asthma without the advice of an allergologist before the first use.

Why call a tree that has nothing to do with tea "tea tree"? It was discovered in Australia by the naturalists accompanying Cook on his second voyage in the Endeavour (1772-1775), when it was given this misleading name. Did its leaves actually replace the tea that the great navigator's crew lacked so direly? Another version says that an Australian lake where ill people who bathed in it were healed was surrounded by beneficial trees whose leaves fell into the water and infused under the sun. Whatever the truth, the healing virtues used by the Aboriginals were so obvious that the soldiers from the Second World War Australian expeditionary force included tea tree in their field pharmacy.


Extracts from the book 'Aromatherapia - All about essential oils', by Isabelle Pacchioni, watercolors by Patrick MORIN, Aroma Thera Editions . Extracts from the book '41 essential oils essential for treating yourself differently' and '48 essential oils which every home needs to be healthy' by Isabelle Delaleu and Isabelle Pacchioni, Publications of the Mandadori France group. Botanical illustrations by Agathe Haevermans.

The properties, benefits and method of use are given for information; they cannot in any case constitute or replace medical information that only health professionals can provide. For any use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, please consult your GP or pharmacist.
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