Melaleuca cajuputi Powell

Etymology Genus Black and white; referring to the bark colours
Species From the Malay name of the species, Kiya Putih
Family Myrtaceae
Synonyms Melaleuca eriorhachis Gand., Melaleuca minor Sm.
Common Names Gelam, Paper Bark Tree
Status Native: Presumed Extinct
Form Tree
Native Distribution Indochina, Malesia, and Australia


Melaleuca cajuputi is a very commonly cultivated tree in Singapore. It has distinct peeling and papery bark, elongated leaves of parallel venation, and white bottle-brush like flowers. Crushed leaves emit a fragrant scent.

Interesting Facts:

The Gelam is a fast growing tree and tolerant to both arid and waterlogged conditions, making it an ideal urban tree (NParks, 2009). It is perhaps most famous (to me) for being one of the main constitutents in the Tiger Balm ointment. Kampong Glam is also named after the Gelam tree.

The Gelam in its natural habitat; the wetlands. Taken in Tràm Chim National Park, Vietnam.

Form of the Gelam.

Peeling bark.

Leaf, with an Oriental White-eye sucking from a flower bud.

Test-tube cleaners like flowers.

Olive-back Sunbird feeding on the nectar.



NParks. (2009) Trees of Our Garden City: A Guide to the Common Trees of Singapore. 2nd Edition. National Parks Board, Singapore. 382 pp.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2015-02-18 / Modified: 2018-12-10