61123We all know about the bad reputation of eucalypti, especially the notorious blue gum. They are too big, too aggressive, too messy, too structurally deficient, and in groups, they are too combustible. However, there are several eucalypti that are not only appropriate for local home gardens, but because of their resiliency, drought tolerance and adaptability to the local environment, should be more popular than they are.

Red flowering gum, Eucalyptus ficifolia (which is now known as Corymbia ficifolia), rarely gets more than thirty feet tall and broad, with a stout branch structure. It is a good street tree because the roots are usually deep and complaisant. Constantly falling leaves and seed capsules are somewhat messy, but the mess is proportionate to the compact canopy, and is probably worth the spectacular summer and autumn bloom.

Fuzzy trusses of staminate flowers are usually some shade of red, but might be pink, salmon, reddish orange or pale white. Trees must be a few years old to bloom, so color might be a surprise when young trees bloom for the first time. Profusion of bloom can be variable from year to year, or from one portion of the canopy to another. Tree size and form are also variable. Some are vigorous while others are more compact.

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9 thoughts on “Red Flowering Gum

  1. Thanks for some Eucalypus positivity – Eucs are getting a bad rap here too re fire, but based on Australian fire events (Much of NZ is too humid, in the main, also Australian temps are higher leading to more flammable volatiles – AFAIK). An interesting piece in Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 18, EGU2016-11014, 2016 – “Will elevated CO2 alter fuel characteristics and flammability of eucalypt woodlands?” – In an early study leaves were shown to thicken and become less flammable at CO2 of 550ppm – about 35 years away. I haven’t found whole article yet but sure is thought-provoking.

    Also are you aware of ‘mallee’ forms of some Eucs? This is where some species develop as huge shrubs often in response to fire – I haven’t tried it but I would expect the same effect could be produced with contact herbicide.

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    1. We refer to ‘mallee’ as those eucalyptus that develop such form, not the form itself. I mean that we know the eucalyptus specie that grow as big shrubs as malleed, even if they are pruned up as small trees. We try to use more eucalyptus in the Los Angeles area because they are so resilient and have such complaisant roots in regard to pavement. Because they are not in wildlands, we are not concerned about combustibility. Unfortunately, we can not use big eucalyptus.

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      1. Thanks, I’ve been using/recommending these small species / forms, maybe you get them there?:
        E lansdowneana spp albopurpurea – tree form to 6metres.
        E neglecta Maiden – tree form to 6metres.
        E perriniana F.Muell. – Grows as a mallee to 6m high or as an untidy tree to 9m high.
        E gregsoniana – Mallee to 5m high.
        E pauciflora subsp. niphophila – as a tree or a mallee, usually to c. 5m high but occasionally to 10m tall.
        E pulverulenta Baby Blue – tree to 6m
        My main info source in NZ is Graeme Milligan at http://www.milliganseeds.co.nz/pages/for-sale-eucalyptus-trees/
        A tree man and complete wealth of Euc info

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      2. Oh wow! The only one of these that we can get here is the Eucalyptus pulverulenta! Even that is uncommon. It happens to be one of my favorites because of the silvery foliage and distinctive bark. Even though the trunk is stout, the tree does not get too big. Unfortunately, it can fall over if it gets watered. It works nicely on freeway landscapes where it will not be watered too much, and if it is set back so that it has room to fall over if it wants to. I find that they should not be pruned (if it can be avoided). Their secondary growth breaks away easily.
        Anyway, the others are not available here. I have heard of a few of them. The Eucalyptus torquata used to be available down south. I really liked it, but my colleague down there who is more familiar with it disliked it because it needed staked for so long. I think it would be better if pruned more aggressively. I think it really wanted to be branched to the ground, and not pruned up on a single trunk. Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila is another one that I think would be useful here. I never saw one 10 meters tall though. They are more like twenty feet tall; but I have only seen a few that were not very old.

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    1. Well, I still use the name ‘Eucalyptus’, even for those that are already renamed as ‘Corymbia’. I am still not clear on that name, if it applies to all eucalypti, or just some. It seems that only a few have been renamed.

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