A tree usually seen under 60 ft high in the wild state, with several crooked stems produced from near ground-level; trunk smooth with a deciduous bark, white when freshly exposed, darkening to grey; young growths dark red and lustrous. Juvenile leaves opposite for three to five pairs, sessile or short-stalked, ovate to almost orbicular, 1 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, grey-green, rather thick and leathery. Adult leaves alternate, stalked, broadly lanceolate to sickle-shaped, 21⁄2 to 6 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. wide, thick and leathery and bright, glossy green on both surfaces. Inflorescence an axillary umbel of seven to twelve flowers on a stout common-stalk; buds club-shaped with a smooth and lustrous calyx-tube; anthers reniform. Fruit globose to pear-shaped; disk flat and thick; valves enclosed.
Native of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales; it is mainly a species of the mountains, found on the mainland from 2,500 to 5,500 ft, but from sea-level to 2,000 ft in Tasmania (to 3,500 ft in some localities); introduced before 1880. This is certainly one of the hardiest species, but in view of its wide range, both in latitude and altitude, some variability in frost resistance is to be expected. There is a good specimen in the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, growing in a rather exposed position near Inverleith House, planted around 1939; it measures 45 × 41⁄2 ft with a spread of about 30 ft (1965).
var. nana Blakely Wolgan Snow Gum. – A dwarf, mallee-like form reported to flower and fruit when only 6 ft high and further differing from the type in the narrower leaves ; in the short-stalked or almost sessile umbels; and the top-shaped fruits. Found in one locality in New South Wales at 3,500 ft.
E. niphophila Maiden & Blakely E. coriacea var. alpina F. v. Muell. Snow Gum. – An alpine species confined to high altitudes in the mountains of Victoria and New South Wales (where it ascends to 6,500 ft on Mt Kosciusko). In this respect it differs from E. pauciflora, which, though reaching as high as 5,500 ft, has its main distribution at lower altitudes. From that species E. niphophila is also distinguished by the green juvenile leaves and by the silvery bloom that covers the young stems.
E. niphophila was first described in 1929; previous to that it had been regarded as part of E. pauciflora and only in recent years has it come into prominence. By any standard it is one of the most beautiful of the eucalypts that can be grown in this country and perhaps the hardiest; in very few gardens did it suffer any damage in the winters of 1961-3. ‘E. niphophila … is the gem in my collection of eucalypts. The glossy leaves reflect sunlight like small mirrors: the branchlets in winter are glossy dark red to orange-red; when growth starts in the spring they turn bluish-white with a glaucous bloom which may be rubbed off by branch movement in gales but is renewed by exudation during the growing season: branches which have not yet started bark-shed are also covered with the same glaucous bloom much of which persists through the winter: naked buds and leaf petioles are orange, newly opened leaves mahogany red to light brown …’ (R. C. Barnard, Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 91, p. 296). Mr Barnard adds that this species grows rather slowly for two years but thereafter at 3 to 4 ft annually. The seed germinates poorly unless given cold, moist stratification for four to six weeks.
The ultimate height of this species in cultivation is uncertain, but it will almost certainly exceed the 20 ft given as the maximum attained in its natural habitat.
E. mitchelliana Cambage Weeping Sally. – A very rare species in the wild state, found only on Mt Buffalo in Victoria at about 4,000 ft. It is a tree to about 50 ft high, with a smooth, white bark; the young branches are drooping, hence the popular name. Adult leaves 3 to 6 in. long, scarcely 1⁄2 in. wide, green. Buds cylindrical or tapered at both ends. Fruit globular to barrel-shaped.
E. stellulata Sieber Black Sally. – A species closely allied to the preceding but not so elegant; and differing in the broader and shorter leaves, which are elliptical to broadly lanceolate, up to 3 in. long and 1 in. wide. It is a native of Victoria and New South Wales.
Both these species are in cultivation. E. mitchelliana is an ornamental eucalypt of great promise, which is growing well at Glendoick in E. Perthshire and suffered no damage there in the winters of 1961-3.