Just over 40 of the 850 eucalypt species occur naturally in the wider Canberra area. Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) occupies hundreds of square kilometres of our montane and sub-alpine area and is perhaps our most numerous gum tree, while the Mongarlowe Mallee, with just five individuals known is our rarest.
Gum trees are distinguished by their form; the type of bark they have; the colour and shape of leaves; and the shape of buds and fruit (gum nuts). Photographs of flowers are virtually useless from an identification perspective.
Trees with smooth (no) bark on their trunk and branches are termed gums (eg Red Gum). Trees with mostly smooth bark but with it peeling in ribbons are ribbon gums. Those with bark part way up their trunks but smooth main branches are termed boxes (eg Yellow Box). Peppermints are trees with fibrous flaky bark, persistent on trunk and larger branches. The bark of stringybarks can be pulled off in long strings, while ironbarks have dark deeply furrowed bark. A mallee is a eucalypt that has multiple stems and a low growth habit.
Eucalypt species from around Australia have been planted in Canberra, but the Tasmanian Blue Gum, is the only non-local species to have become naturalised in our region, though new self perpetuating populations of the Argyle Apple and White Box have resulted from 1920s plantings of these species on Mount Mugga Mugga.
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