Melaleuca quinquenervia

Paperbark poplar

Family: Myrtaceae

Origin: Australia

Paperbark poplar flowers and seeds.
A multitude of attractive flowers are produced on stem tips and have long white stamens of pollen. Paperback poplar flowers are attractive to bees.
Photo credit: Barry A. Rice, The Nature Conservancy Wildland Invasive Species Team

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Evergreen tree < 30 m tall. Roots are prolific and penetrate > 1 m deep. A fibrous sheath is produced around the base of the trunk when inundated. Bark is pale and peels in papery layers. Leaves are aromatic, simple and < 12 cm long. Flowers are white with pronounced stamens. Seeds are minute and borne in woody capsules.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell paperbark poplar within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant paperbark poplar within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any paperbark poplar on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Freshwater and saline wetlands, open habitats, grasslands, open forest.


Seeds dispersed by wind, water.

Impact on environment

Forms dense stands, displacing native plants. Alters vegetation structure and reduces plant diversity, likely affecting macrofauna. Fire risk.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel or ringbark stem and paste with metsulfuron gel if safe to do so.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Drill and inject trees with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 1L of water if safe to do so. Drill 18mm holes (tangentially angled downwards) in a spiral up the trunk.

For 50mm stems drill one hole. For 100mm stems drill two holes. For larger stems drill holes 150mm apart. Foliar spray seedlings with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant

Safety notes

Large trees must not be drilled that are closer than 1.5 times the height of the tree from paths, walkways and property.

Trees over 4 metres in height should be removed by a qualified arborist.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Layers of bark peeling on the paperbark poplar.
An evergreen tree growing up to 30m tall from Australia. Paperback poplar gets its name for many thin layers of bark that tend to peel off looking like paper.
Photo credit: Barry A. Rice, The Nature Conservancy Wildland Invasive Species Team
Close up of paperbark poplar seeds.
Paperback poplar seeds form in long clusters once flowers are pollinated. Seeds grow within small wooden capsules that pop open when seeds are ripe.
Photo credit: Barry A. Rice, The Nature Conservancy Wildland Invasive Species Team
Close up of paperbark poplar leaves.
Seeds germinate easily and can lead to forests of paperbark poplars forming. This could lead to displacing native bids as these trees do not provide food for native birds.
Photo credit: Forest and Kim Starr, U.S. Geological Survey,
Close up of paperback poplar flowers.
Paperback poplar trees can be cut down and the timber used as firewood. Stumps don't tend to re-sprout but should be checked over the next few years for re-growth.
Photo credit: Albert (Bud) Mayfield, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,