Saltwater paperbark (Melaleuca cuticularis)
This species is the whitest of Perth’s paperbarks. In Perth it is much less common than freshwater paperbark (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla) or modong (Melaleuca preissiana), and much smaller in size, often growing as a large shrub, rather than a tree. It occurs round Lake Coogee, and in places beside the Swan Estuary, often on exposed sites, such as Pelican Point. Here the conditions — salty and often waterlogged soil, and salty winds off the estuary as well — are too harsh for most other trees. Wherever another paperbark species (usually freshwater paperbark) occurs at the same site, saltwater paperbark grows nearer the water.
Perth is near the northern limit of saltwater paperbark’s distribution, which is chiefly the south coast east to Israelite Bay (near inlets, estuaries or rivers), and the Great Southern (round salt lakes). In parts of this range it grows much larger than it does in Perth.
© Text and photographs: Robert Powell