Tea tree

Image supplied by the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association

The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association represents the biosecurity interests of tea tree producers and the industry. They are members of Plant Health Australia and signatories to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. Their responsibilities include:

  • biosecurity planning and implementation at the national and farm levels
  • liaising with federal and state governments on trade issues
  • funding and supporting biosecurity initiatives
  • participating in national committees and response efforts in an emergency.

Industry overview

In 2016–17, tea tree production was valued at $30 million (LVP). The vast majority (90%) is exported through an established supply chain to over 70 countries, particularly North America and Europe.

In 2018, there were about 130 tea tree growers in Australia and about 4,500 hectares under plantation production. Industry growth has stabilised, with average annual production of 1,000 tonnes of oil.

The main product of the Australian tea tree industry is tea tree oil, which is steam distilled from Melaleuca alternifolia, an iconic Australian native plant species. Nearly all Australian tea tree oil production is sourced from plantations. Most plantations (three quarters) are located in the coastal region of northern NSW with 10 per cent located in the Atherton Tablelands of Queensland.

Tea tree oil is exported as bulk oil which is used to make value-added products including healthcare, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, veterinary and aromatherapy products.

Domestic consumption is estimated to be around 95,000 kg per annum with much of this also destined for the export market as value-added cosmetic and therapeutic goods such as soap, shampoo, burn dressings as well as tea tree oil.

The tea tree industry has partnered with AgriFutures Australia on industry RD&E since 1998. The industry established an Emergency Plant Pest Response levy which commenced in July 2017.

In 2017, ATTIA became a member of PHA and a tea tree biosecurity plan is being developed, which will identify the High Priority Pests of the industry.

Annual value of tea tree production 2012–17

Distribution of tea tree production by state and territory, 2016–17 (based on LVP)

Industry biosecurity plans

Biosecurity planning provides a mechanism for the tea tree industry, government and other relevant stakeholders to assess current biosecurity practices and future biosecurity needs. Planning identifies procedures that can be put in place to reduce the chance of pests reaching our borders or minimise the impact if a pest incursion occurs.

The Biosecurity Plan for the Tea Tree Industry has been prepared but does not yet have final approval. It includes key threats to the industry, risk mitigation plans, and identifies and categorises exotic pests.

For a more information please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email [email protected]

On-farm biosecurity fact sheet

The tea tree industry and PHA have created a fact sheet about on-farm biosecurity.

Farm biosecurity is the protection of your property from the entry and spread of harmful exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

Biosecurity measures implemented on farm also play an important role in protecting the Australian tea tree industry from exotic pests that affect plant industries overseas.


Exotic pests (not in Australia)

The following is a list of high priority exotic pests of  tea tree. These pests were identified during the development of the draft Biosecurity Plan for the Tea Tree Industry in consultation with industry, government and scientists. They have been assessed as high priority pests based on their potential to enter, establish, and spread in Australia (eg environmental factors, host range, vectors) and the cost to industry of control measures.

PHA has a range of fact sheets, contingency plans and diagnostic protocols relevant to these pests. Pest risk review documents are also available for some pests. Please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email [email protected] for more information.

Endorsed National Diagnostic Protocols are available from the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network webpage.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Black twig borer Xylosandrus compactus FS FS
Sudden oak death Phytophthora ramorum 1 FS FS FS CP DP

Other pests

The following is a list of documents for other exotic and endemic pests of tea tree. Please note that this is not a complete list of pests: rather it includes pests for which documents exist in the Pest Information Document Database.

Some of the documents presented here are not  tailored to the tea tree industry and are included for information only.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Fire ants Solenopsis invicta FS
Elsinoe scab Elsinoe australis and E. eelemani FS