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Eucalyptus regnans, the Mountain Ash is the Eucalypt of the Year 2022

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.

In a hotly contested secon place came the splendid and widely beloved Red Flowering Gum, Corymbia ficifolia. The Red Flowering Gum has had an incredible flowering season this year, in its restricted endemic range in southwestern WA and along streets and in gardens across southern Australia.

Rounding out the top three is the gorgeous Sydney Red Gum, Angophora costata. Also known as the Smooth-barked Apple, this species has been in the top three eucs almost every year since the competition started in 2018!

 

 

 

2022 Eucalypt of the Year Shortlist:

Sydney Red Gum,
Angophora costata
NSW, Qld
A wide-spreading tree with wiggly limbs, rich red bark and abundant cream flowers, this species is well-loved and widely planted as avenues and in parklands. Despite being synonymous with the Sydney sandstone country, the species epithet ‘costata’ refers not to the coastal location but to the gumnuts, ‘costatus’ meaning ‘ribbed’ in Latin.

Photo – Keelan Orrock. @delving.through.dharawal on Instagram

Ghost Gum,
Corymbia aparrerinja
NT, Qld, WA
Albert Namatjira’s muse, birthplace of the Australian Labour Party and desert apparition. The sight of the powder-white trunk against the red soil and blue sky of Central Australia is unforgettable. This extremely photogenic tree grows tall on the plains and small and wiry when it clings to cliffs in the central plateaus and ranges. The Arrernte people of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the surrounding lands call this tree ilwempe.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Lemon-scented Gum,
Corymbia citriodora
QLD
Surely one of Australia’s best-loved gums (but I guess we’ll find out!). The evocative citrus scent of these trees in the rain is the smell of summer in eastern suburbia. Pair that with its smooth limbs and blush-pink to apricot bark that changes colour with the seasons and it’s no wonder so many have been moved to pick up a pen and laud its loveliness. Corymbia citriodora is one of only two eucalypts with lemon-scented leaves.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Red Flowering Gum,
Corymbia ficifolia
WA
One of the best-recognised and frequently planted eucalypts, with several very popular small cultivars, like the highly regarded ‘Summer Beauty’. Although the species naturally flowers in red to red-orange, varieties in a range of pinks have been created by hybridising this species with the white-flowering Marri (Corymbia calophylla).
Photo – Melanie Cooper. @maxxle5 on Instagram

Port Lincoln Mallee/ Purple-flowered Mallee Box,
Eucalyptus albopurpurea
SA

This Eyre Peninsula endemic is the only eucalypt species with purple blossoms! A small, multi-stemmed mallee, it is a great option for small gardens and is widely planted in coastal southern Australia. The flowers can also be pink or white, but the colour of the adult tree’s blossoms doesn’t predict those of its offspring, making it impossible for gardeners to guarantee they are growing an individual with sought-after purple flowers.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Silver Princess,
Eucalyptus caesia
WA

The Silver Princess is aptly named, with large pink blossoms, limbs and gumnuts that look as though sprayed with silver paint and a slight, graceful form. This species is commonly planted in suburban gardens of the south, especially the subspecies ‘magna’ which carries the largest buds and blooms and displays the characteristic drooping habit many associate with the species. In your rush to admire the showy buds, flowers and fruit, don’t overlook the fabulous ‘minniritchi’ bark, which curls in vertical scrolls and stays on the tree, revealing fresh green and yellow bark beneath.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Tasmanian Snow Gum,
Eucalyptus coccifera
Tas

The Tasmanian Snow Gum has the poetic, twisted branches and spectacularly colourful bark of its mainland counterpart, E. pauciflora, but is not closely related. It is actually one of the peppermint eucalypts. Endemic to Tassie, this species is the most abundant tree on the high peaks of the alpine region.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Karri,
Eucalyptus diversicolor
WA
The Karri is a huge tree with lustrous timber that has seen it logged extensively since the early days of European colonisation. With smooth bark that glows orange in autumn, this species forms spectacular tall forests in high rainfall areas of southwest WA. Fire observation lookouts were built at the top of some of the tallest in the 1930s and ’40s, some of which can still be climbed today.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Fuchsia Gum,
Eucalyptus dolichorhyncha
WA

With its abundant, bell-like buds and fruit that remain year round, this WA endemic is popular in cultivation in South Australia. It is easily confused with (and often sold as) the closely-related Eucalyptus forrestiana, but can be distinguished by the long, beaked operculum (cap) on the E. dolichorhyncha buds. E. forrestiana has instead a shallow, disc-like operculum.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Sydney Scribbly Gum,
Eucalyptus haemastoma
NSW

The markings on the bark of this species are made by the larvae of Scribbly Gum Moths, of which there are several species, as they chew and burrow between the layers of old and new bark. As the older bark falls away, the intricate patterns of this tunnelling are revealed. One of three species of scribbly gums, these trees gave inspiration to the stories of May Gibbs and poetry of Judith Wright.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Bookleaf Mallee,
Eucalyptus kruseana
WA
Birds love this small and highly structural mallee with fluoro-yellow blossoms bursting from between silver leaves on spreading branches. A fantastic specimen for gardens, which can be allowed to grow to a small tree or pruned back to the lignotuber for a spreading shrub habit. More people should be planting this one this jewel from the west.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Moon Lagoon,
Eucalyptus lunata
WA
Recently formally named by Dr Dean Nicolle, this species has tiny blue juvenile leaves and tiny, bright green adult leaves. It can be maintained for either foliage, or a mix of both, and would be a great shrub for a small garden or large pot. Popular in cultivation overseas but should be planted more often in Australia. Endemic to a very small southwestern region in WA, like most of these small, ornamental mallees.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Darwin Woollybutt,
Eucalyptus miniata
NT, Qld, WA
One of very few eucalypts that naturally flower orange, the Darwin Woollybutt is a common tree of the tropical savannah. The species gets its common name from the dark stocking of loose, flakey, fibrous (sometimes even fluffy) bark that runs halfway up the trunk with white, powdery bark above. Large ribbed gumnuts are another feature of this species, as if you needed another reason to love it. The seeds held in these fruits are a favourite food of the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Morrisby’s Gum
Eucalyptus morrisbyi
Tas
Endemic to a small region of Tasmania, this species is critically endangered due to climate change-induced drought, changed fire regimes and grazing by rabbits and native animals and insects. The total population, which has crashed to only fifty trees resides in just two locations on the eastern shore of Hobart’s Derwent River. A recovery program is underway to bring the species back from the brink through seed conservation, planting and protection of seedlings and adults from browsers. It would be a shame to lose this beautiful small tree with its white branchlets, silver leaves and big, creamy blossoms.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Messmate Stringybark,
Eucalyptus obliqua
NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic
This tall, rough-barked forest tree occurs south and east of the Great Dividing Range, and will be familiar to many. The first eucalypt to be formally described by western science, it was named ‘Eucalyptus’ or ‘eu’- ‘calyptos’ (Greek for ‘well’ – ‘covered’) for the bud caps covering the flowers we know so well. Also known by the name Tasmanian Oak, Messmate is prized for its durable and handscome timber, used for flooring, building and furniture.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Swamp Gum
Eucalyptus ovata
NSW, SA, Tas, Vic
The Swamp Gum has a thick crown of shiny, dark green, ovate (oval-shaped) leaves, with wavy edges. Hence the specific name ‘ovata’. This beautiful tree of the southeast grows in swampy ground in woodlands, forests and grasslands, providing a cool, shady retreat on a hot day. It has smooth, white bark above and holds onto a stocking of dead bark in ribbons and slabs.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Blue Mallee
Eucalyptus polybractea
NSW, SA, Vic
Blue Mallee is used to produce some of the highest quality Eucalyptus oil in production. It thrives in dry conditions and grows back vigorously from its lignotuber (a mass of dormant buds) when harvested (often right at the base). A lot of “Eucalyptus oil” in circulation is produced in China, from Camphor Laurel trees (not eucalypts themselves!). But the highest quality oil, used medicinally, for flavouring and for cleaning, is still manufactured from oil mallees like this one.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Mongarlowe Mallee
Eucalyptus recurva
NSW
The Mongarlowe Mallee is the rarest eucalypt, with just six ancient individual trees remaining. And when we say ancient, we mean it. These individuals have been estimated at more than 3000 years old, and it is possible that some of the individuals actually represent a single tree as old as 13,000 years. A rescue project is underway to help the trees cross-pollinate and produce seed for the next generation, but it is likely the species was on an extinction pathway well before white people arrived on the continent.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Mountain Ash,
Eucalyptus regnans
Tas, Vic
Until very recently, the Mountain Ash or Swamp Gum was the tallest flowering plant in the world. That record has recently been snatched by a tropical species in New Guinea, but the towering giants are no less majestic and command respect from all who stand in their presence.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Mottlecah,
Eucalyptus macrocarpa
WA
One of our most famous ornamental mallees, hailing from the wheatbelt region of Western Australia, Mottlecah’s enormous red flowers bloom straight from the branch. Mottlecah apparently derives from the Noongar word for this species, Mottlecar. A spreading form with leaves and fruit held tight to long branches gives this species an impressive appearance. The species name ‘macrocarpa’ comes from the greek words for ‘large fruit’, an apt name for this species.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Mugga/Red Ironbark,
Eucalyptus sideroxylon
NSW, Qld, Vic

The weeping blue-grey leaves and cream, pink or red flowers provide a stunning contrast against the burnt red or black iron-hard bark of this well-loved eastern species. An important component of the Box-Ironbark Forests, the winter and spring flowering of this species brings nomadic honeyeaters and parrots from hundreds of kilometres away, even from Tasmania in the case of the critically endangered Swift Parrot.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Silvertop Ash
Eucalyptus sieberi
NSW, ACT, Vic, Tas
If you google silvertop ash you won’t see a picture of a tree, rather you will see pictures of the most stunning decking and cladding. As a moderately durable hardwood silvertop ash is used extensively in construction as it’s ability to hold shape and resistance to the elements makes it a premium construction material. Silvertop Ash was the favourite species of Eucalypt Australia’s benefactor Bjarne K Dahl. Bjarne spent his working life among the eucalypt forests of Victoria, as a forest assessor and forester. Bjarne linked his well-being and financial prosperity to eucalypts, so much so that he left his entire estate to the promotion, education and cultivation of our precious eucalypts.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Octopus Mallee,
Eucalyptus sinuosa
WA
The Octopus Mallee is named for the striking clusters of long, red, tentacle-like buds that curl in at the tip. These bud clusters give way to bright green pom-pom flowers and then to hard, spikey balls of fused fruit. There is never a dull moment with this striking species, and the birds love it too.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Coral Gum,
Eucalyptus torquata
WA
The distinctive pinky-orange, ribbed buds with their beaked caps make the Coral Gum easy to distinguish amongst the eucalypts. With plenty of showy pink, cream and apricot flowers throughout the year, this small tree is popular amongst gardeners and birds alike and has become a common street tree in Adelaide. The name ‘torquata’ comes from the Latin ‘torquatus’ meaning ‘adorned with a necklace (or collar)’.
Photo – Dean Nicolle

Manna Gum,
Eucalyptus viminalis
NSW, SA, Tas, Vic
The ribbon-hung Manna Gum is widely variable across its distribution – a tall, straight and smooth-barked tree in the temperate forests, shorter and more gnarled as a woodland tree, and a small rough tree on rocky slopes. The leaves have a relatively high sugar content so the species is a favourite of koalas and other leaf-eating climbing mammals. Sometimes this sugar exudes and crystallises on leaves and branches, leading to the ‘manna’ name.
Photo – Cathy Cavallo

Your favourite not included in the list?

There will be a free field just for you.

 

 

Previous Years’ Winners:

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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