Pages 20-21

Issue 19 pages 20-21

Fraser Coast Essential Oils Association

Australian Native Essential Oil Crops

The Fraser Coast Essential Oils Association was formed three years ago to further the development of an Essential Oils industry in Central and South East Queensland. Current membership exceeds 40 covering Caboolture to Mackay. The association is trialling a range of Australian native oil plants to identify alternative crops to Tea Tree. A number have already been identified to provide the crop diversity advisable in any horticultural enterprise. While markets already exist for some of these essential oils, work is proceeding on developing markets for a greater range. A primary focus of the Association is the development of best practice guidelines to ensure optimum crop yields. This has involved developing growing methods best suited to local climate and soil conditions. Tea Tree oil is the major essential oil for this area. Current prices (1998) are steady at $40 to $45 per kilogram. At this price, using good farming practices, an annual gross return of $6 - 8000 per hectare can be expected after two to three years. The Tea Tree species normally gown is Melaleuca alternifolia. As this plant grows naturally in wet conditions, adequate water is essential for cropping to be successful. However, the plant will tolerate a wide range of soils including clays. If you wish to know more, contact the Association on the above address or telephone number. Ph: (07) 4121 4588 Facsimile: (07) 4121 4566 PO Box 26, Maryborough, QLD 4650 

Melaleuca 

Description A small tree to 7in high with a bushy crown and whitish papery bark. 

Leaves: are alternate, linear, 1-3.5cm long, smooth, curved and soft. They, are rich in oil, the oil glands prominent. 

Flowers: occur in fluffy, white masses, mostly in spring to early summer, and make a fine show over a short period. The stamens are pinnate on the claw. 

Fruits are cylindrical, 2-3mn long and wide, usually sparsely spiced along the branches.

Distribution: an inhabitant of wet places, mainly from Coffs Harbour to Maryborough along the east coast, but it has been recorded as far south as Stroud in NSW.