There are around 900 species of eucalypt, and you can bet that every species holds a special place in someone’s heart. From the mighty River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) distributed far and wide across our sunburnt country, to the extremely rare Eucalyptus copulans, which is known from only a couple of trees living in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, our eucalypts are as diverse as the land itself.
This week, Eucalypt Australia launched their second annual Eucalypt of the Year award to find Australia’s favourite eucalypt. Last year the top spot was awarded to the quintessential River Red Gum, with the Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) and Ghost Gum (Corymbia aparrerinja) close contenders. Who will win this year is anyone’s game, but with its ubiquity across our country and in story and song, we wouldn’t be surprised if the red gum emerged victorious for the second year in a row!
These days, three genera (closely-related groups) are recognised as eucalypts: Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora. Perhaps your favourite is the showy Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia) or the impressive Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata)?
Do you love your favourite eucalypt because of the wildlife it draws near? Or the cool shade it provides? Do you love it for the way you can work its wood, for the oil you can draw from its leaves or the honey that bees create from its flowers? Perhaps you love it simply as it is, for itself and of itself, a marvel of nature and evolution.
Is your favourite small and multi-stemmed, like the Cup Gum (Eucalyptus cosmophylla), or does it stand tall and stately, keeping its branches high in the canopy, like the regal Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans)? Does it have big bright flowers and fruits, like the Mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) or are its blooms small and unassuming, like the Scaly Bark (Eucalyptus squamosa)? Is its bark smooth like the Ghost Gum (Corymbia aparrerinja), ribbony like the Candlebark (Eucalyptus rubida), or rough and tough like the great Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)?
Whichever is your favourite, now is your chance to share it with the world! It’s only the first week of the Eucalypt of the Year campaign, and already the nominations are coming in thick and fast. If you want your favourite to win, you’re going to have to get involved, make your nomination and campaign for others to vote for your contender. Use the #EucalyptoftheYear hashtag on Instagram and Twitter, send votes in via Eucalypt Australia’s Facebook inbox, or enter via their online form here.
Banner image courtesy of Cathy Cavallo.