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2024 Eucalypt of the Year, Corymbia ficifolia, the incredible Red-Flowering Gum

This Western Australian showstopper is one of the most widely planted eucalypts in Australia and around the world! In the wild, however, it is only found in a very small area of subcoastal woodland and heathland in far southwest Western Australia.

It has dark, glossy leaves reminiscent of a fig tree – hence the name fici (ficus or fig-like) folia (leaves). The huge red or orange blossoms cover the ends of branches in an epic show of summer colour, before falling to reveal huge woody gumnuts.

Across southern Australia, the Red-flowering Gum had a particularly spectacular flowering season in summer 23/24, thanks in part to a wet spring and a mild summer.  Honeyeaters and bees were as ecstatic as we were at their abundant and joyful flowering.

The Red-flowering Gum is a fantastic choice for streets, parks and gardens, and there are even dwarf varieties that can be grown in pots!  Dwarf varieties grow to between 2 and 4 metres (on average) and others can grow up 12 metres although averages don’t always to individuals!   It has a dense, shade-giving canopy and dark, non-shedding bark. Hybrid and grafted cultivars exist across a range of pinks, oranges and reds and can be planted in a wider range of climates and soils than the wild Red-flowering Gum.

Congratulations to the passionate #FriendsofFicifolia on social media, who have been campaigning for the Red-flowering Gum right from the first National Eucalypt Day!

This is the first time in seven years that a Corymbia has won.  In second place, the Red-flowering Gum was followed closely by another Western Australian endemic, the Silver Princess. Rounding out the medal-winners is the iconic Ghost Gum!  This is the first time in seven years that a Corymbia has won.


The Top Ten Short List of Urban Champion Eucalypts 2024

Impossible to short-list, we tried our best regardless to derive this list of 10 urban champions for the 2024 Eucalypt of the Year poll.

Red-flowering Gum, Corymbia ficifolia
Features: This Western Australian species is having a jaw-dropping flowering season, thanks to a mild, relatively wet summer. You will have seen the photos – red or orange blossoms so bright they max out the camera, set against glossy, dark green, fig-like leaves (that’s where the name ficifolia comes from!) and big, woody, urn-shaped gumnuts. Despite its restricted distribution in the wild, this is one of Australia’s most widely-planted eucalypts, and it’s not hard to see why!
Great for: Highly successful as a street tree in temperate environments, thanks to its uniform shape, short, straight trunk, dense, shady crown, non-shedding bark and abundant, bright flowers. There are a wide variety of cultivars available, including hybrids that offer various shades of pink, many grafted to guarantee choice of flower colour. Also suitable for gardens and parks.
Needs: Suited to coastal and inland temperate and subtropical areas on acidic, sandy soil, however some grafted cultivars tolerate a wider range of soil types and acidities.
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Lemon-flowered Gum, Eucalyptus woodwardii
Features: Cascades of white buds, grey-green leaves and lemon-yellow flowers adorn the weeping branches of this small tree. Paired with its copper and silver bark, the Lemon-flowered Gum is a real showstopper.
Great for: A long-lived, generally single-trunked species suitable as a street or feature tree in warm, arid environments. Despite its slender form and heavy flowering, the species is structurally very sound. The cheerful yellow flowers are produced in winter in spring, providing food for native birds and insects.
Needs: Grows well on well-drained clay or limestone-based soils in hot weather with plenty of sun. Grows poorly in humid, coastal environments and areas of high rainfall.
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Ghost Gum, Corymbia aparrerinja
NT, Qld, WA
Features: An iconic tree of Central Australia, its powdery white bark resplendent against a backdrop of blue sky and red soil. Astoundingly adaptable, this species grows to its conditions – from a 30 cm shrub clinging to a crack on a rocky escarpment to a tall, spreading tree on the plains. When planted in warm, arid environments, the Ghost Gum general grows into a well-shaped tree with a single trunk and rounded, shade-giving crown.
Great for: This highly drought-tolerant, stately species is perfect for parkland plantings and useful as a street tree in hot, dry areas.
Needs: Well-draining soil, warm-hot arid climates and plenty of sun.
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Argyle Apple, Eucalyptus cinerea
NSW, Vic
Features: A stately tree from the Central and Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, its distribution extending just over the border into the Beechworth area of north-east Victoria. It features a dense crown of silver-blue, rounded leaves against a dark, non-shedding, fibrous bark. From winter to early summer, the Argyle Apple produces small cream flowers that provide food for native insects and smaller honeyeaters.
Great for: Shade, shelter and screening. Trim lower branches during growth to create a shady feature tree to sit beneath. Eucalyptus cinerea is a larger species (6-18 metres tall), suitable for bigger gardens, parklands and potentially streetscapes.
Needs: This is a tolerant, hardy woodland species that can take a wide-range of temperatures, soil types and lighting conditions. It does need well-drained soil and moderate rainfall.
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Risdon Peppermint, Eucalyptus risdonii
Features: A rare, small peppermint species from Tasmania with scented silver foliage, attractive smooth bark and small white flowers that attract native insect pollinators.
Great for: Street plantings and smaller gardens in cool temperate environments. Can be periodically pruned back to the ground to be grown as a multi-stemmed mallee or to promote vigorous growth of the striking, paired leaves, which can be used in cut flower arrangements.
Needs: Plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil and a cool temperate climate with moderately high rainfall.
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Heart-leaved Mallee, Eucalyptus websteriana
Features: A small, rounded shrub or mallee with heart-shaped leaves, striking red and green minniritchi bark and pale yellow flowers that are popular with native birds and insects alike. The sweet, delicate flowers emerge from bronze, rounded buds in winter and spring.
Great for: This ornamental species is perfect for large pots and small garden spaces. It has a compact crown and non-competitive root system that allows it to be planted in concert with other species in a denser habitat garden. It is drought tolerant, copes well in hot summers and can be pruned right back to the base.
Needs: The Heart-leaved Mallee is a desert species that needs full sun, well-draining soil, and a warm, dry climate.
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Coral Gum, Eucalyptus torquata
Features: Named for its pink flowers and orange buds, the Coral Gum is one of the most widely planted eucalypts and for good reason. Along with masses of spectacular flowers over a prolonged flowering season, the species features a dense, rounded crown, non-shedding bark on a short, single trunk, is consistently structurally sound and highly drought tolerant.
Great for: Street plantings, parklands and as a small garden tree for shade and shelter. The orange, beaked bud caps look like tiny, piped meringues and the bright flowers are popular with native pollinators.
Needs: Lots of sun, and well-drained soil, a dry climate with hot summers and mild winters. Tolerates most soil types. Does not like salt-laden coastal winds, high humidity or high rainfall.
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Silver Princess, Eucalyptus caesia
Features: Huge, pink, pendulous gumblossoms, silver, bell-like gumnuts and handsome red ‘minniritchi’ bark that curls in upon itself – what’s not to like? But don’t let its delicate beauty fool you, this a hardy desert species that tolerates a wide range of temperatures and conditions across temperate and arid Australia.
Great for: The Silver Princess an excellent choice for small, sunlit gardens where its narrow trunk, open crown and non-competitive root systems allow other species to be planted beneath. This, and the bright, bird-attracting flowers that bloom in autumn and winter have made it a historically popular choice in urban native gardens of the south east.
Needs: Full sun all day and well-draining soil. Moderately frost and drought tolerant.
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Yellow Gum/South Australian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus leucoxylon
NSW, SA, Vic
Features: A versatile, widely grown eucalypt with masses of pink, red, yellow or cream pollinator-attracting flowers from winter to spring, glossy green leaves and smooth, striped bark, which ranges in colour from white and grey to yellow and brown and changes character throughout the seasons. Despite the smooth bark, this species is most closely-related to the ironbarks.
Great for: With a wide environmental tolerance, five subspecies and multiple tried-and-true cultivars, this species is suitable for almost all urban uses – from small, shady street trees and backyard trees to parkland giants. Most popular cultivars have been produced from the smaller subspecies megalocarpa, also known as the Large-fruited Yellow Gum, which has a short trunk, rounded, dense crown and the biggest, brightest flowers amongst the subpecies. The species responds well to pruning, and provides food and shelter for a wider variety of native species.
Needs: This species tolerates a wide variety of soils and performs well in coastal environments with mild climates and moderate to high rainfall. Drought and frost tolerance varies from subspecies to subspecies.
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Dwarf Apple, Angophora hispida


Features: A shrub or small tree with interesting foliage, producing masses of big, cream flowers in late spring and summer. The juvenile leaves and stems are burgundy and covered in tiny red hairs, an unusual feature amongst the eucalypts.
Great for: Tough coastal or rocky sites with sandy, acidic soil. Can be maintained as an attractive shrub or small tree with a dense, shade-giving crown.
Needs: temperate climate and well-drained soils. Dislikes alkaline soils.
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2023 Winner - the exquisite Sydney Red Gum - Angophora costata

2023 Winner - the exquisite Sydney Red Gum - Angophora costata

Known as ​​kajimbourra by the Dharawal people, the Sydney Red Gum is synonymous with the sandstone escarpments of the Greater Sydney region, where it grows in woodlands on shallow, sandy soils. Also known as the Smooth-barked Apple, the species is distributed from Bodalla on the NSW South Coast to Coffs Harbour (NSW North Coast), from the coast to adjacent inland ranges. Interestingly, there are disjunct populations on sandstone escarpments west of Townsville, suggesting a wider historic distribution.

Many Australians will be most familiar with the Sydney Red Gum as an important part of the urban forest in our cities and towns. With its broad trunk, attractive bark and spreading form, the species has been planted widely across suburban parklands and streetscapes and is beloved well beyond its natural range.

2022 Winner - the Mighty Mountain Ash - Eucalyptus regnans

2022 Winner - the Mighty Mountain Ash - Eucalyptus regnans

A deserving winner of Australian hearts, the Mountain Ash is the ruler of the southeastern rainforests and tallest flowering plant in the entire world!

It grows as tall open forests in high rainfall areas of southern Victoria and northeastern and southern Tasmania. These Mountain Ash forests are important homes to threatened species like the Leadbeaters (Fairy) Possum and Greater Glider.

2021 Winner - The "Sexy" Gimlet - Eucalyptus salubris

2021 Winner - The "Sexy" Gimlet - Eucalyptus salubris

We love the glorious shimmering bark of the E. salubris, the Gimlet or if Michael Whitehead of Melbourne University had his way, the “sexy gum”.  For the second year in a row a West Australian eucalypt took out the mantle of Eucalypt of the Year not in any small part due to the social media efforts of the wonderful Richard McLennan and his “Gimlet Groupies”.

We were pleased to have the Gimlet highlighted as a means of raising awareness to the plight of the Great Western Woodlands. 

Image courtesy of Richard McLennan

2020 Winner - The Stunning Illyarrie - Eucalyptus ethrocorys

2020 Winner - The Stunning Illyarrie - Eucalyptus ethrocorys

It’s one of the most distinctive of all the eucalypts, with its dark red bud caps, bright yellow flowers arranged in four tufts, and heavy, woody fruits. It’s totally unique, and not closely-related to any other species of eucalypt.

You can find the Illyarrie in its native home on the west coast of Australia, between Perth and Shark Bay, where it grows on almost pure limestone. However, it’s often planted ornamentally in cities such as Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Alice Springs. The species is very tolerant of drought and rapidly responds to fire by reshooting new growth from the trunk and branches.

2019 Winner - The Tenacious Snow Gum - Eucalyptus pauciflora

2019 Winner - The Tenacious Snow Gum - Eucalyptus pauciflora

For many, the image of Snow Gums, with their limbs, over which reds, whites, yellows, greens and greys flow like rivulets, partially buried under snow or in bent, windswept shapes on saddles, is synonymous with the Australian high country; yet this species grows from southern Queensland to Tasmania in diverse environmental conditions. Many Snow Gums will never see snow, though all will be dusted with their own snowfall of simple white flowers (the specific name pauciflora (‘few flowers’) is a misnomer). Across latitudes and altitudes, the species explores many forms. As well as the twisted mallee form synonymous with the windy, scorching or frosted high country, the species can grow as a thick, single-trunked forest tree up to 30 m.

Image courtesy Catherine Cavallo

2018 Inaugural Winner - the Majestic River Red Gum - Eucalyptus camaldulensis

2018 Inaugural Winner - the Majestic River Red Gum - Eucalyptus camaldulensis

With the most widespread distribution of any eucalypt in Australia, the river red gum is one of our best known Australian plants and has been celebrated in art, music, poetry and prose.

In flooded rivers, their roots protect young fish from predators, while high in the branches birds and possums play.  A scar or broken bough becomes a hollow home for marsupial, reptile or bird and submerged logs host giant barramundi and Murray cod.


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