This large Australian tree, sometimes also spelled “ti,” is related to eucalyptus. There are many species and subspecies; all have an interesting bark that curls off the trunk, giving them the name “paperbark.” Studies show that contact with blood and pus actually increases tea tree’s antiseptic powers. The scents are easier to distinguish when the fresh leaves of different species are being crushed than after the oil has been distilled, and we suspect that with so many different species, the oils aren’t always properly identified. Tea tree is nontoxic, with uses as wide-ranging as those of lavender.
Extraction: Distilled from leaves. The scent is similar to eucalyptus, but softer. Poor-quality oil smells like melted rubber.
Medicinal Action: A good immune-system tonic, tea tree fights lung, genital and urinary, vaginal, sinus and mouth infections. It counters fungal infections and viral infections such as herpes, shingles, chicken pox, candida, thrush and flu.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: Tea tree treats diaper rash, fungus, acne, wounds and insect bites. It protects the skin from radiation burns during cancer therapy. It is one of the most nonirritating antiseptic oils, although this varies with the species.
Emotional Attribute: The scent builds strength, especially before an operation and during postoperative shock.
Cajeput (M. cajuputii) –The name comes from the Malaysian caju-puti, meaning “white bark.” It is a vein decongestant and is harsher than tea tree oil.
M. quinquenervia –This is a sweeter-smelling species of tea tree. The commercially sold “MQV” is a type of this oil.
Niaouli (M. viridiflora) –Called “Gomen oil” because it was once shipped from that West Indies port, Niaouli is now harvested in Australia. The antiviral properties are similar to those of tea tree, but is considered more effective fighting viruses such as herpes, and has a sweeter, more pleasant fragrance.