The Melaleuca tree is famous in Australia, but is not the most famous. 

According to www.TopTropicals.com, "After Eucalyptus, this [Melaleuca Alternifolia] is the most famous of all Australia plants."

Well, Eucalyptus may be the most famous, but dear Melaleuca tree, you will always be number one in my heart!
 
It is a fact.  You can grow Melaleuca Alternifolia trees just by planting a seed.  It does take the right environment and the right green thumb though.  Not just anyone who sticks a Melaleuca seed in the ground will successfully grow a Melaleuca tree in their backyard.  If you are interested in growing a Melaleuca tree, you need to know the tricks.  Here is some helpful advice I found at MelaleucaAlternifolia.org:

"In spring, the seed was led onto a pot of permanently moist soil.  Immerse in 5cm of water and do not water from overhead. Grow on until the seedlings are 0.5cm tall than remove from the water and pot up a after a week. Seedlings are liable to damp off when grown this way, sowing the seed thinly, good ventilation and hygiene are essential for success. Grow the plants on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse and then plant them out in late spring or early summer after last expected frosts. Consider giving the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors."

Happy gardening!  If you have had success planting a Melaleuca tree, leave a comment.  We want to hear the details of what you did.
 
Melaleuca is also know as Tea Tree. Bet you knew that already.  I bet you didn't know that Melaleuca is also commonly known as Narrow Leaved Paperbark according to the  http://www.anbg.gov.au/common.names/.  Melaleuca may be hard to say, but narrow leaved paperbark sure is a mouthful!  

Melaleuca really isn't that hard to say.  You can say it five times fast and not get your tongue tied.

Now go for it!  Try saying, "narrow leaved paperbark" 5 times, fast.  Good luck with that.
 
While there are some who believe Melaleuca is a weed, they are both right and wrong.  Melaleuca Alternifolia, as found in Australia, is a tree.  Melaleuca Quinquenervia, as found in Florida, is a noxious weed.  They are easily distinguishable.  Melaleuca tree = Alternifolia. Melaleuca weed = Quinquenervia.
 
The Melaleuca tree, similar to the way the bark on a Quaking Aspen tree peels away, has a bark that looks like it is always falling apart.  The bark peels in thick layers and is rather soft.
See the following picture of Melaleuca Bark:
This picture was shared on twitter here:  https://twitter.com/#!/JoyUsGarden/status/169829215242432512/photo/1
by @joyusgarden

Notice that the bark peels away naturally and slowly over time.  Melaleuca bark, unlike the Quaking Aspen tree bark which are paper thin, peel away in thick layers.
 
According to ForestLearning.edu.au, "Melaleuca forest makes up only 5% of Australia’s forest 
area."  That is still a lot of trees.  5% may not seem like much.  5% of a 10 ounce glass of water is just a small swig of water, but 5% of an ocean is larger than many of the countries in the world!

The site goes on to say: "it is the third most extensive forest type after eucalypts and 
acacia."  

Thanks for reading your Melaleuca Fact of the Day!
 
If you Google Melaleuca, you will find that everyone calls Melaleuca the tea tree.  That makes it a fact, right?  Just kidding, just because it is online, and used frequently, that doesn't make it a fact. 

But I have found that if more than 10 sources call it that online it is almost always accurate. 

Ask anyone in Australia: A Melaleuca tree is a tea tree, and tea tree is SO much easier to say than Melaleuca! ;-)