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Screening selected myrtaceous tree species for production of essential oils in northern Queensland

Doran, J.C. and Drinnan, J.E. and Macdonell, P.F. and Aken, K.M. (2007) Screening selected myrtaceous tree species for production of essential oils in northern Queensland. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 47 (6). pp. 755-761.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA06191

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au

Abstract

Trials to identify alternative cropping options to Melaleuca alternifolia for northern Queensland essential oil growers were established at Dimbulah and Innot Hot Springs in 2001. Seed sources of Asteromyrtus symphyocarpa (1,8-cineole form), Eucalyptus staigeriana (citral), Melaleuca cajuputi subsp. cajuputi (trans-nerolidol), M. ericifolia (d-linalool), M. quinquenervia (trans-nerolidol and viridiflorol forms) and M. viridiflora (methyl cinnamate) with potential to produce commercial foliar oils were evaluated. Information was gathered on their adaptability, growth and oil yields over 49 months and 52 months (two harvests) from planting at Dimbulah and Innot Hot Springs, respectively. Of the species and chemotypes evaluated, M. quinquenervia showed potential for commercial production of trans-nerolidol, a compound used in perfumery. It had a very high survival rate (96%) and yields could be expected to improve dramatically from the average 100 kg/ha per harvest achieved in these trials with further research into selection of seed source, control of insect damage and breeding for genetic improvement. M. cajuputi subsp. cajuputi gave a similar performance to M. quinquenervia. The rarity of the trans-nerolidol form of this species and remoteness of its natural occurrence are impediments to further planting and research. E. staigeriana, with second harvest yields of ~600 kg/ha, performed exceptionally well on both sites but potential for development is limited by the ready availability of competitively priced E. staigeriana oil produced in South America. Survival of M. ericifolia ranged from 62% to 82% at 32 months (second harvest) at Innot Hot Springs and was deemed a failure at Dimbulah with poor growth and low survival, raising a major question about the suitability of this species for cultivation in the seasonally dry tropics. Planting of this species on a wider scale in northern Queensland cannot be recommended until more is known about factors affecting its survival. A. symphyocarpa and M. viridiflora were too slow-growing to warrant further consideration as potential oil-producing species at this time.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© CSIRO.
Keywords:Melaleuca alternifolia; northern Queensland; essential oil growers.
Subjects:Science > Biology > Biochemistry
Forestry > Sylviculture
Deposited On:28 Apr 2009 03:11
Last Modified:21 Nov 2010 21:44

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