Diversity is one of the key concepts to keep in mind when thinking of eucalypts. Diversity in sizes, in forms, in foliage types, in natural habitat conditions, in tolerance to new environmental conditions. Variability is one of the other key concepts. Variability in growth rates, in flowering times, within and between species, within and between populations of the same species, variability everywhere. These are objective concepts, they can be measured. But what is the key subjective concept? Exactly that one that matters the most to the gardener or plant collector: ornamentality. Or, said in a different way, aesthetic pleasure. For all those having some doubt on eucalypts being too boring, monotonous and of little interest for your yard, but especially for those who fell for the many times misguided demonisation of a whole plant genus, here you have some humble and limited evidence that things are not always what they seem to be. Enjoy.
Eucalyptus megacornuta (Warted Yate): A Western Australian species, confined to the stony hills of Ravensthorpe. Popular ornamental in Mediterranean climates in Australia, it has also spread as ornamental in similar climates elsewhere in the world, especially in Southern California and the Mediterranean Basin. It becomes a small tree or a mallet. Impressive features are its big sized elongated and warty flower buds, clusters of yellow green flowers ressembling barber brushes and strange looking masssive capsules.
Eucalyptus erythrocorys (Illyarrie): Another Western Australian species, in this case with natural habitat in the coast to the south of Geraldton on low elevation limestone soils. A striking ornamental species wherever it can be grown in Australia and elsewhere having a Mediterranean type of climate. Interesting features are bright yellow flower stamens and the contrast of colour between these and the unique bright red and tetra-lobed flower opercula.
Eucalyptus torquata (Coral Gum Tree): You guessed it, a Western Australian eucalypt. A small tree from the Goldfields, Kalgoorlie to Coolgardie, not too far away from the next species. A very popular ornamental in southern Australia and also in other Mediterranean areas. Pinkish flowers and very recognizable pendulous "claw like" flower buds.
Eucalyptus lesouefii (Goldfields Blackbutt): Also from Western Australia, in this case from inland plains mainly to the South of Kalgoorlie towards Esperance. Its main distinctive ornamental feature are the very silvery and corrugated flower buds making nice contrast with green foliage. It is not commonly grown as ornamental plant and it is quite rare outside of its natural habitat in Australia. It was named by J.H. Maiden after one of the Le Souëf, a family involved in the creation and management of Zoologic Parks.
Eucalyptus macrandra (Long Flowered Marlock): A mallee or small tree that can be found in river plains and lowlands around Albany, but also more inland in quite arid environments. So, Western Australian! Elongated opercula make flower buds quite attractive and they hide bright yellow stamens. Quite uncommon as ornamental, it has good potential to show the amazing variability among eucalypts. Do not confuse with E. macrocarpa.
Corymbia ficifolia ex Eucalyptus ficifolia (Red Flowering Gum): The classical ornamental eucalypt, once more a Western Australian species. A small tree with natural habitat restricted to the coastal southwestern tip near Albany, over sandy plains. Common in mild and preferrably frost free climates worldwide. Flowers can be red, pink or orange making great colour contrast with glossy green leaves. Its barrel shaped fruits are also a feature. A close relative is C. calophylla.
Eucalyptus melanophloia (Silver Leaved Ironbark): This species is natural from the other side of Australia (NSW & QLD). So what is it doing among a WA collection? Well, it is a mislabelled one! Something very common with eucalypts, there are too many types! It is really a horn-budded E. redunca, another Western Australian coastal species with some inland populations. Do not trust plant labels: observe the trees and botanise instead.

Most of the previous species are suitable for cultivation in gardens with a tendence to Mediterranean climate. There are examples of successful cultivation in maritime climates of the Atlantic type with very mild winters but many Western Australian species have shown a very limited cold hardiness, thriving and flowering more profusely where macro and microclimatic conditions favour a frost-free winter season. Some cold tolerance is expected however, and for the case of C. ficifolia, the most common in cultivation of these all, resistance to occasional brief absolute minima of -4ºC has been recorded. However, some other species with particularly attractive flowers show promise for cultivation in gardens with a lightly more restrictive winter temperature and a less marked Mediterranean tendence. One of such Eucalyptus is shown here.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon `Rosea´ (Yellow Gum or Large fruited South Australian Blue Gum): This relatively common ornamental form can either be a selection of E. leucoxylon ssp. leucoxylon, growing naturally from the Werribee to the Grampians (VIC) and from the Flinders Ranges to Kangaroo Island (SA); E. leucoxylon ssp. megalocarpa, in coastal locations in the boundaries of Victoria and South Australia; or Southern Australian species E. petiolaris. Flowers can be red, pink, fuchsia or sometimes white. Not all these and other E. leucoxylon subspecies and forms do breed true from seed in what regards to flower colour. In Europe it has been cultivated as far north as 53ºN by David Robinson near Dublin (Earlscliffe Garden) resisting brief peaks of -7ºC and additional flowering specimens can be found in London and Kent. One of these is Matt Smith's tree pictured to the left.

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© 2007 Gustavo Iglesias Trabado - GIT Forestry Consulting - Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal - EUCALYPTOLOGICS