Euc beaut! Who will win Eucalypt of the Year in 2021?

Euc beaut! Who will win Eucalypt of the Year in 2021?

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.

Each year on National Eucalypt Day (23 March), Eucalypt Australia announces the Eucalypt of the Year, as decided by the public. Last year the crown went to the vivacious Eucalyptus erythrocorys, otherwise known as Illyarrie, while previous years have seen the River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) and the Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) take out the top honours. But which species will win in 2021?

This year, the competition will be a little different. Eucalypts are everyone’s shared heritage, but not everybody knows the name of their favourite species, and that’s A-OK! Not to mention common names differ from region to region, with some having an inordinate number of aliases. For example, the species Eucalyptus leucoxylon goes by the name Yellow Gum in Victoria, Blue Gum in South Australia and even White Ironbark in some locations! 

So this year Eucalypt Australia and Remember The Wild are highlighting 25 of the most commonly encountered and best-loved eucalypts across Australia, plus some we reckon you need to know about. Browse the list below of 25 commonly encountered eucalypts and see if you can spot your favourite, then submit your vote via the button at the bottom of this article! If your Eucalypt of the Year isn’t on the list, simply select ‘Other’ and give us its common and scientific name in the next question. Note that previous winners are out of the competition for three years after winning. This means no River Red Gum, no Snow Gum and no Illyarrie this year (sorry!) 

Tell us why your favourite eucalypt is THE best to be in the running to win some great prizes, like copies of Dr Dean Nicolle’s Smaller and Taller Eucalypts for Planting in Australia.

Once you’ve voted, tell the world on social media, tagging @Eucalyptaus and using the #EucBeaut and #EucalyptoftheYear hashtags. Rally your tribe and get a team behind your favourite to help it win the gong by creating your own #Team hashtag (e.g. #TeamLemonScentedGum). Our goal is to get Australia talking about our iconic eucalypts and remembering their ecological and cultural importance. By celebrating the nation’s love for eucalypts, we hope to enhance their reputation in the community, perhaps even sparking the enthusiasm of new champions of eucalypt conservation.

Our top 25 eucalypts

Alright, here we go! In order of common name…

Eucalyptus lehmannii (Bushy Yate)

Bushy Yate, Eucalyptus lehmannii

WA

It’s hard to know what’s more fun – the Seussian, pom-pom green flowers, mace-like gumnuts or long pink bud caps (opercula) that give the bud clusters an octopus-like appearance and can be worn like fingernails once shed! These whimsical small trees are a standout in any garden.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Coolabah, Eucalyptus coolabah

NSW, NT, Qld, SA, WA

The hardy Coolabah is one of Australia’s most widespread trees and one of our best-known (thanks Banjo Paterson). The name Coolabah comes from the Yuwaaliyaay word gulabaa, or a variant from another of the other languages of the Gamilaraay Nation in northwest NSW.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus torquata (Coral Gum)

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

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 – Dean Nicolle

Corymbia opaca (Desert Bloodwood)

Desert Bloodwood, Corymbia opaca

NT, SA, WA

One of the toughest eucalypts, the Desert Bloodwood’s dense canopy provides thick shade, a welcome feature in the red interior. The name ‘bloodwood’ refers to the thick red sap or ‘kino’ that leaks from these trees. This species is also home to the famed ‘bush coconut’.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Corymbia aparrerinja (Ghost Gum)

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

Eucalyptus salubris (gimlet, Fluted Gum)

Gimlet, Eucalyptus salubris

WA

Someone needs to tell the Gimlet that suntan oil is no longer in vogue. The sensuous, oiled-up limbs of the ‘Sexy Gum’ are all too easy on the eye. The Gimlet is an excellent garden tree, but to see the species in its full glory you should travel to Western Australia’s Great Western Woodlands, some of the largest remaining temperate woodland in the world.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Jarrah, Eucalyptus marginata

WA

Prized for the strength and natural termite resistance of its wood, this impressive tree was used to build the settlements of Perth and Fremantle. For a long time, it was also the key international export out of Western Australia. Overharvesting led to the loss of many of the largest individuals, but recognition of the forests’ decimation led to reservation of State Forests and the eventual decision to no longer harvest old-growth forests in the state.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Jingymia Mallee, Eucalyptus synandra

WA

It’s hard to go past these bright pink buds and lovely tutu-like flowers, which change from white to pink as they age. It’s as though these fine-limbed mallees are covered in troupes of tiny ballerinas. The Jingymia Mallee has narrow leaves and a loose crown, casting no shade and making it the perfect species for a small garden with wildflowers of shrubs planted beneath.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Large-fruited Mallee, Eucalyptus youngiana

SA, WA

With giant buds like freshly piped meringues and huge, thick, yellow or red blossoms, the Large-fruited Mallee is a gardener’s delight! This ornamental mallee makes a great habitat tree, with nectar-rich blossoms that are highly attractive to birds. It also sports some of the heaviest gumnuts on the planet.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Lemon-scented Gum, Corymbia citriodora

NSW

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

Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum, Ribbon Gum)

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 – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus macrocarpa (Mottlecah)

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 – 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

E. sideroxylon (Mugga, Red Ironbark, Mugga Ironbark)

Mugga 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 – Dean Nicolle

The Western Australian Red-flowering gum (C. ficifolia), another corymbia.

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 always flowers in red to red-orange, light pink and pink varieties have been created by hybridising this species with the white-flowering Marri (Corymbia calophylla).

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus jacksonii giant tree (Red Tingle)

Red Tingle, Eucalyptus jacksonii

WA

Forest giants of southwest Western Australia, Red Tingles are famed for their gigantic girth and hollow bases, formed over decades and longer by fire and insect attack. Several of these hollow trees would be large enough to drive a car through and one boasts a circumference of 24 metres! It is the mighty buttresses of the Red Tingle’s shallow, spreading root systems that keep these hollowed-out giants standing tall.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus risdonii cultivar (Risdon Peppermint)

Risdon’s Peppermint, Eucalyptus risdonii

Tas

This medium-sized, silver-leaved tree is a rarity, growing only around the Meehan Range in Tasmania, including in the suburb of Risdon, after which it is named. This species tends to keep its heart-shaped juvenile foliage, though occasionally sprouts some lance-shaped adult leaves.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus salmonophloia (Wurak, Salmon Gum)

Salmon Gum, Eucalyptus salmonphloia

WA

The Salmon Gum woodlands of the western wheatbelt and goldfields are an outstanding sight in any light. The salmon-pink to bronze and even silver bark takes on different characters as the day progresses and positively glows against the twilight at the break and close of day.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus caesia subsp magna cultivar

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 – Dean Nicolle

The eucalypts include many iconic species that are not in the genus Eucalyptus, such as the iconic Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata)

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 – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus haemastoma (Scribbly Gum)

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

(Tasmanian blue gum), tallest-known individual, Lonnavale, Tas

Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus globulus

Tas, Vic

The floral emblem of Tasmania, this tall forest species has some of the longest leaves amongst the eucalypts, regularly growing between 15 and 35 cm. The pretty blue-grey juvenile leaves are often used in cut flower arrangements and the hard and durable timber and fast-growing habit has led to the Tasmanian Blue Gum becoming one of the most widely planted eucalypts across the world.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

E. vernicosa Ironbound Range, Tas

Varnished Mallee, Eucalyptus vernicosa

Tas

Meet our smallest eucalypt, the Varnished Mallee. Its scrambling or shrubby low profile and small leaves help it weather the tough conditions above the tree line on the rugged ridges and plateaus of the Tasmanian high country. The species is rare in cultivation in Australia, but frequently grown in parts of Europe as a potted plant. Sounds like the perfect balcony garden species!

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Eucalyptus leucoxylon (White Ironbark)

Yellow Gum, Eucalyptus leucoxylon

NSW, SA, Vic

The other ‘flowering gum’ widely recognised amongst urban plantings. When growing in Victoria it is called Yellow Gum, but South Australians like to claim it as the South Australian Blue Gum. The abundant flowers vary from cream to pink to a bawdy red. Surprisingly, this species is more closely related to the rough-barked ironbarks than to any of the other smooth-barked gums. You can see this in the pendulous, long-stemmed fruit and thick, simple flowers. The flowers of Yellow Gum and the ironbarks are specially adapted to the brush-tongues of lorikeets.

Photo – Dean Nicolle

Made your choice? Vote here for the Eucalypt of the Year!

 


Banner image courtesy of Cathy Cavallo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.