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Family Myrtaceae
Paperbark tree
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. T. Blake

Bai shu yu

Scientific names Common names
Melaleuca leucadendra var. albida Cheel Paperback tree (Baguio, Engl.)
Melaleuca leucadendra var. angustifolia L. f. Cajeput tree (Engl.)
Melaleuca maidenii R. T. Baker Cajeput oil tree (Engl.)
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. T. Blake Bottlebrush tree (Engl.)
Melaleuca smithii R. T. Baker Punktree (Engl.)
Metrosideros quinquenervia Cav. Five-veined paperbark (Engl.)
  Melaleuca (Engl.)
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Melaleuca leucadendron and Melaleuca quinquenervia refer to the same plant.
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T.Blake is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Bai shu yu
SANSKRIT: Kayaputi.

Melaleuca is of Greek origin, meaning "black and white," referring to the white bark that is often charred by fire. (11)

Melaleuca is a tree growing to 10 meters or more, with a dense narrow crown, a stout, often twisted trunk. Bark is spongy and corky and peels off in thin layers. Branches are pendulous. Leaves are thin, leathery, alternate, lanceolate, up to 7 centimeters long, 1.5 centimeters wide, 5-nerved, short-petioled, and pointed at both ends. Flowers are finely hairy, white, in dense spikes, up to 6 centimeters long, emits an unpleasant, musty odor. Fruit is small and greyish-brown with a narrow groove around the top surrounding a small, crater-like cup marked with 5 radial grooves.

- Recently introduced to the Philippines.
- Cultivated and planted along streets in Baguio and Manila.
- Rare elsewhere in the Philippines.

- Found in Australia, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Hawaii, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Caledonia Island, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands.

- Melaleuca oil is distilled from fresh leaves and twigs.
- The leaves yield cajeput oil which contains 45 to 56 % cineol, esters of butteric, valerianic and acetic acids, dl-pinene, valeral, butril, benzaldehydes, l-linalool, etc.
- The essential oil concentration in leaves is relatively high, about 1-3% of fresh mass. Among the 150 compounds present in M. quinquenervia foliage, 5-10 constitute more than 95% of the solvent-extractable terpenoids. Of these, 1,8-cineole, a-pinene, limonene, trans-nerolidol, b-caryophyllne and viridiflorol constitute the major terpenoids in the leaves.
- In one study, Niaouli essential oils were classified into three chemotypes: Chemotype 2, rich in 1,8-cineole (up to 80%); C1, rich in terpinene derivatives; , and C3 rich in a-pinene and viridiflorol.

- Indonesian study on leaf oils showed the presence of 26 compounds,1,8-cineole (44.76–60.19%), α-terpineol (5.93–12.45%), d(+)-limonene (4.45–8.85%), and β-caryophyllene (3.78–7.64%) were the major components.
- Study of leaves yielded a new lupane-type nortriterpene, 28-norlup-20(29)-ene-3beta,17beta-diol, and 13 known compounds, (2E,6E)-farnesol, phytol, squalene, alloaromadendrene, ledene, palustrol, viridiflorol, ledol, betulinaldehyde, betulinic acid, 3beta-acetyl-lup-20(29)-en-28-oic acid, 3-oxolup-20(29)-en-28-oic acid, and platanic acid. (9)
- Study of leaves yielded four polyphenlic acid derivatives and three ellagitannins elucidated as: gallics acid (1), ellagic acid (2), 3-O-methylellagic acid (3), 3,4,3′-tri-O-methylellagic acid (4), 2,3-O-hexahydroxy-diphenoyl-(α/β)-D-4C1-glucopyranose (5), castalin (6), and grandinin (7). (see study below) (15)
- GC/MS analysis of 64 samples of M. quinquenervia oils collected from 21 different trees during three seasons characterized 47 compounds. Statistical analysis revealed two chemotypes: chemotype I (1,8-cineole type) and chemotyoe II characterized by a high viridiflorol content (48%). (16)

- Oil considered anesthetic, carminative, antispasmodic, sudorific, stimulant, rubefacient.
- Studies have shown antioxidant, hypoglycemic, antimicrobial, antimalarial properties.

Parts used
Oil, bark.


- In New Caledonia, tea is made from the leaves
- Cajeput oil used in small amounts as flavoring in food and beverages.

- In eastern Malaysia, the bark, softened by mastication, is applied to suppurating wounds to draw out the pus.
- In Sarawak, the bark is used with Hydrocotyle leaves on festering wounds, also to draw out pus.
- Oil used externally as a parasiticide and as anthelmintic.
- In Malaysia, oil is used externally for headaches, toothaches, earaches, rheumatism, cramps and fresh wounds.
- In European medicine, oil is used as a sudorific and vermifuge.
- In
Cuba, extracts used as analgesic and antimalarial.
- Oil used for rheumatism and neuralgia.
- Oil used in dental caries, as anodyne; as eardrops for earaches; and locally, for ptyriasis, psoriasis and eczema.
- Oil also used as counterirritant, rubbed over the chest in bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurodynia, pleuritis.
- Oil may be mixed with mustard oil as an anodyne liniment.
- On unbroken skin, oil is stimulant and rubefacient.
- Oil is a domestic remedy for all muscular pains.
- Oil taken internally as a powerful stimulant, carminative and antispasmodic; given in choleric diarrhea.
- Oil considered a powerful sudorific.
Wood: Not a traditional timber product because of a high bark-to-wood ratio. However, the wood may be used as pulp and cabinetry, and make a fine firewood. The papery bark is used by the Malays for caulking their boats.
Repellent: Oil makes an excellent mosquito repellent.
Fuel: Entire tree can be used as biomass fuel, but not ideal because of its powdery, low-density bark.

• Cosmetics:
Essential oil used in various cosmetic products.

Phytochemical Screening:
Study of the leaf and stem of MQ yielded hydrocarbons, fatty acids, cholesterol, stigmasterol, b-sitosterol, oleanic acid, kaempferol, quercetin, quercetrin and saponin glycosides. (2)
Polyphenols and Ellagitannins / Grandinin / Antioxidant / Hypoglycemic: Study isolated four polyphenolic acid derivatives and three ellagitannins from the leaves of MQ for the first time. One of the 7, grandinin, showed radical scavenging properties, found to be nontoxic, and to have a significant dose-dependent hypoglycemic effect in STZ-induced diabetic mice. Grandinin also reduced the elevated BUN and serum lipid peroxides. (4)
Allergenicity: Study was done to determine if Melaleuco quinquenervia tree is a source of allergen and respiratory irritant. Results indicate the Melaleuca tree is not a significant source of aeroallergen and the Melaleuca odor is not a respiratory irritant. (5)
Antimalarial: Study showed M. leucadendron to have in vitro activity against Plasmodium falcifarum and marginal activity in vivo against Plasmodium berghei.
Antimicrobial: An extensive Cuban study on in vitro antimicrobial profiling of three medicinal plants, Simarouba glauca, Melaleuca leucadendron and Artemisia absinthium, was tested for their antiprotozoal potential against Trypanosoma b. brucei, T. cruzi, Leishmania infantum and Plasmodium falcifarum, antifungal activity against Microsporum canis and Candida albicans, and antibacterial activity against E coli and S aureus. Only M. leucadendron extract showed selective activity against all the microorganisms tested. (7)
Antimicrobial / Antibiotic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / Essential Oil: Study of Melaleuca sp. oil showed in vitro inhibitory effect against Staphylococcus aureus isolates obtained from lower limb wounds and resistant to several antibiotics. (13)
Antimicrobial Activity of Niaouli Leaf Extracts Against Skin Flora: Study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of niaouli leaf extracts against skin flora viz., Bacillus subtilis, S. aureus, Propionibacterium acnes, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, and the yeast Plasmodium ovale. Results showed a 50% ethanol extract/fraction of naouli could be applicable to cosmetics as natural preservatives effective in antimicrobial activity against skin flora. (14)
• Grandinin / Lowering of Blood Glucose /Antioxidant / Leaves: Study of leaves yielded four polyphenolic acid derivatives and three ellagitannins. The major component, grandinin, showed radical scavenging properties by DPPH assay and exhibited significant dose-dependent hypoglycemic effect in STZ-induced diabetic mice, together with reductionn in elevated BUN and serum lipid peroxides. (see constituents above) (15)
• Anthelmintic / Essential Oil: Study evaluated essential oils of Citrus sinensis and Melaleuca quinquenervia against Haemonchus contortus Embrapa 2010 resistant isolate. M. quinquenervia yielded lngifoolene (32.95%) and 1,8-cineole (25.43%) as major components. In the EHT (egg hatch test), MQ showed an IC50 and IC90 were 1.52 and 5.63 mg/ml, respectively. In LDT (larval development test), IC50 and IC90 were 044 and 0,94 mg/ml, respectively. Results suggest a potential for nematode control. (17)

Extracts and cajeput oil in the cybermarkets.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Updated November 2017 / July 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
IMAGE SOURCE: Myrtaceae - Melaleuca leucadendron - Melaleuca minor. / From: Darstellung und Beschreibung sämtlicher in der Pharmacopoea Borusica aufgeführten offizinellen Gewächse by Otto Carl Berg & Carl Friedrich Schmidt. / Leipzig, Arthur Felix, [1858-1863], 1. edition, volume 1, plate 3c. Hand-coloured lithograph (sheet 215 x 280 mm). / Meemelink

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. T Blake / Melaleuca / T. F. Geary and S. L. Woodall
Constituents of Melaleuca quinquenervia Cav. Grown in Egypt / M A Abdel-Alim, F A Moharram et al / Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, Vol 5, Issue 2 January 1998 , pages 29 - 37 / DOI: 10.1300/J044v05n02_05
Development of pheromone-based trapping for the Melaleuca quinquenervia biological control agent, Oxyops vitiosa / G S Wheeler /
Polyphenols of Melaleuca quinquenervia leaves - pharmacological studies of grandinin / Moharram F A,, Marzouk M S et al / PTR. Phytotherapy research, 2003, vol. 17, no7, pp. 767-773
Melaleuca tree and respiratory disease
/ John Stablein, Gerald Bucholtz, Richard Lockey / Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Volume 89, Number 5, November 2002 , pp. 523-530
Occurrence of various chemotypes in niaouli [Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S. T. Blake] essential oil from New Caledonia / Benedicte Trilles et al / Flavour and Fragrance Journal,Vol 21 Issue 4, Pages 677 - 682
In vitro anti-microbial activity of the Cuban medicinal plants Simarouba glauca DC, Melaleuca leucadendron L and Artemisia absinthium L / Aymé Fernández-Calienes ValdésI
, Judith Mendiola Martínez et al / Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz vol.103 no.6 Rio de Janeiro Sept. 2008
Physiochemical properties and chemical compositions of Melaleuca leucadendron leaf oils taken from the plantations in Java, Indonesia / Rini Pujiarti, Yoshito Ohtani;Hideaki Ichiura / Journal of Wood Science
A New Norlupene from the Leaves of Melaleuca leucadendron / Lee CK / J Nat Prod. 1998 Mar 27;61(3):375-6.
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T.Blake is an accepted name / Synonyms / The Plant List
Etymology / 96. Turner, C. E.; Center, T. D.; Burrows, D. W.; Buckingham, G. R. 1998. Ecology and management of Melaleuca quinquenervia, an invader of wetlands in Florida, U.S.A. Wetlands Ecology and Management. 5(3): 165-178. [53483]
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T.Blake / Synonyms / The Plant List
Antimicrobial activity of Melaleuca sp. oil against clinical isolates of antibiotics resistant Staphylococcus aureus / Sávia Perina Portilho Falci, Manoel Araujo Teixeira, Pablo Ferreira das Chagas, Beatriz Bertolaccini Martinez, Ana Beatriz Alkmim Teixeira Loyola, Lydia Masako Ferreira, Daniela Francescato Veiga / Acta Cir. Bras. vol.30 no.6 São Paulo June 2015 / http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-865020150060000005
Antimicrobial Activity of Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia) Leaf Extracts against Skin Flora / Jang, Ha Na; Park, Soo Nam / Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists of Korea, Vol 40, Issue 3 (2014) pp 313-320 / DOI : 10.15230/SCSK.2014.40.3.313
Polyphenols of Melaleuca quinquenervia leaves – pharmacological studies of grandinin
/ FA Moharran, MS Marzouk, SA El Toumy, AAE Ahmed, EA Aboutabi / Phytotherapy Research, Vol 17, Issue 3, August 2003 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1214
Chemical Composition of Niaouli Essential Oils from Madagascar / Panja A R Ramanoelina, Jean P Bianchini, Marta Andrianstsiferana, Josette Viano & Emile M Gaydou / Journal of Essential Oil Research, Vol 4, Issue 6 (1992)
Anthelmintic activity in vitro of Citrus sinensis and Melaleuca quinquenervia essential oil from Cuba on Haemonchus contortus / Yousmel Aleman Gainza, Luciana Ferreira Domingues, Oriela Pino Perez, Marcio Dias Rabelo, Eugenio Roque Lopez, Ana Carolina de Souza Chagas / Industrial Crops and Products, Vol 76, Dec 2015 / https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indcrop.2015.07.056

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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