Shaped by wind, bowed but not broken, the Snow Gum, Eucalyptus pauciflora, is symbolic of the tenacity of eucalypts. Our wide brown land is full of harsh environments of different kinds, and eucalypts have colonised nearly all of them.
For many, the image of gnarled, stoic Snow Gums scrambling over snow or wildflower meadows 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 windswept alps, the species can grow as a thick, single-trunked forest tree up to 30 m.
With its sinuous limbs, over which reds, whites, yellows and greys flow like rivulets, it is easy to understand why this species has captured the hearts of so many Australians. Winner of the Eucalypt of the Year this year (2019), and second highest voted in 2018’s inaugural competition, the Snow Gum is loved by naturalists, artists and gardeners alike. But what of the other species that made the list this year? From more than 700 votes, 80 species were nominated. Sixty-six of these were in the genus Eucalyptus, twelve in Corymbia and two in Angophora – proportions almost perfectly matching the recognised numbers of species in each of these three genera (730, 95, and 12 species respectively).
Here we have collated images of all 80 of the eucalypts you nominated for the 2019 eucalypt of the year. These images were taken by renowned eucalypt expert Dr Dean Nicolle, either within his astounding Currency Creek Arboretum or on expeditions to track down and characterise eucalypts across Australia.
The species featured run the full gamut of eucalypts, from the smallest to the tallest, the most widespread to the locally restricted, and from the best-known to some of the least-known. Second-placed Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum) is the most widespread of all eucalypts, while the third placed Eucalyptus jacksonii (Red Tingle) is one of the largest: a true forest giant. Though the majority of the votes came from southeast Australia, the nominated eucalypts come from all corners of our country and across the seas to Timor and the Phillippines.
We were thrilled by the response to our second Eucalypt of the Year competition. At Eucalypt Australia, our goal is to keep the nation talking and learning about eucalypts. Seeing so many of you passionately engage with the competition to champion your favourite species really did highlight how much these plants mean to Australians. Without the emotional connections we all form with nature, there is little hope for the long-term health of the natural world.
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. We encourage you all to keep the eucalypt-loving conversation flowing. By spreading the word far and wide, you are helping to ensure that eucalypt conservation is firmly embedded in the nation’s psyche.
Here is the full gallery of all 80 eucalypt species that were nominated. Keep an eye out for our winner and runners up.
Words by Catherine Cavallo and Dean Nicolle. Banner image courtesy of Catherine Cavallo. All other images courtesy of Dean Nicolle.