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Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

General Description

Tea tree is a small evergreen tree, reaching roughly 7 meters in height, native to swampy, low-lying areas of Australia. The tree has white, paper-thin bark and narrow, dark green, aromatic leaves. Tea tree has tiny yellowish blossoms, which grow in clusters resembling bottle brushes, and small, non-fleshy, capsular fruit, each of which may contain over a hundred miniscule seeds. The pungent essential oil from the leaves is used topically for health purposes.

Health Applications

  • Mild acne
  • Skin health

Chemical Composition

Tea tree oil contains at least 48 identified compounds, of which terpenes and sesquiterpenes are believed to be the most active.


For topical uses, tea tree oil can be applied liberally with no toxic effects. While tea tree oil is nonirritating for most people, individuals with sensitive skin may want to dilute it with a neutral oil such as almond oil or mineral oil. Tea tree oil is not recommended for internal use. It has produced signs of toxicity when ingested, and should be stored out of reach of children.