18. XVII. Eucalyptus capitellata, Sm.

Description  211 
Synonyms  212 
Range  214 
Affinities  218 

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THIS Part mainly deals with the Stringybarks, which are recognised by every systematic botanist as being specially difficult. They afford an admirable instance of the protean character of Eucalyptus. No character in this group, at least, be it juvenile or mature leaves, flowers, fruit, bark, timber, can be relied upon as absolute. One must adhere to the type as closely as possible, and, as regards aberrant forms, indicate their affinities.

I do not wish to repeat myself at this place, and would refer my readers to my remarks on individual specimens in regard to aberrant forms. Eucalyptus trees vary according to the geological formations on which they are grown, and to the climate, apart from their innate tendency to vary. Then hybridisation plays an important part, though largely unrecognised by botanists even yet. I have dealt with these aspects of the subject at some length at p. 243.

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E. capitellata, Sm.

E. capitellata, Sm., was described by J. E. Smith, not quite satisfactorily (as was also the case with so many of the early species of this difficult genus), in White's Voyage to N. S. Wales, 216 (1790).

Then we have:—

Eucalyptus capitellata, operculo conico calyceque anguloso subancipiti, capitulis lateralibus pedunculatis solitariis.

Lid conical, and, as well as the calyx, angular, and somewhat two-edged. Heads of flowers lateral, solitary, on flower stalks.

The leaves are ovate-lanceolate, firm, astringent, but not very aromatic. We have seen no other species in which the flowers stand in little dense heads, each flower not being pedicellated so as to form an umbel. The lid is about as long as the calyx. Flower-stalk compressed, always solitary and simple.

The fruit of this species, standing on part of a branch whose leaves are fallen off, is figured in Mr. White's “Voyage,” p. 226, along with the leaves of the next species (E. piperita, Sm., J.H.M.).—(“A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland,” p. 42, 1793).note

The description was made from plants procured in the neighbourhood of Sydney, and White's figure of the fruits of E. capitellata is sufficiently good to prevent it being confused with those of any other species. Smith again described it in Trans. Linn. Soc. iii, 285 (1797). See also Wendl. Coll. 36; it is described more fully by Bentham, B.Fl. iii, 206, also by Mueller (Eucalyptographia).

There is no doubt that the type is that form of E. capitellata, Sm., which grows close to the shores of Port Jackson and its estuaries, and the rivers immediately north and south of Port Jackson. See figs. 1–6, pl. 37.

It may be described in the following words:—

A tree of medium size, often, in exposed situations, e.g., near the coast, dwarfed and gnarled.

Bark.—Often very thick and fibrous, a typical Stringybark, the rough bark sometimes extending to all but the smallest branches. Sometimes the trees have a thinner, more sub-fibrous bark, with the upper portion of the trunk and limbs smooth. Notes on the bark will be given when speaking of particular specimens.

Timber.—Brown when fresh, drying to a paler colour. A good timber for splitting and hence much used for posts, rails, buildings (formerly for shingles), and fuel. It is tough, strong, and durable.

Vernacular Names.—As a very general rule this tree is known merely as Stringybark. “Red Stringybark” is a name sometimes applied to this species in this State, in allusion to the darker colour of the wood as compared with that of E. eugenioides. It also goes under the name of “Broad-leaved Stringybark.” It is the “Mountain Stringybark” of Victoria (A. W. Howitt). J. E. Smith, op. cit., called it (following White) “Brown Gum-tree.” Messrs. Baker and Smith have suggested the name “Brown Stringybark” for this species.

Aboriginal Names.—“Yangoora” is a name given to E. capitellata and E. macrorrhyncha indiscriminately by the Gippsland aborigines, according to Howitt. The late Sir William Macarthur informed me that “Dthah-Dthaang” was the name given to E. capitellata by the blacks of the Illawarra district, and “Ngneureung” by those of the Brisbane Water district, while “Bour-rougne” was the name given by those of the Camden district (perhaps, however, to one of the forms intermediate between E. eugenioides and capitellata).

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Juvenile Foliage.—For an account of it in its earliest stages, see pages 216 and 217. In this stage I am unable to separate the leaves from those of undoubted E. macrorrhyncha; but when growing in exposed marine situations they take on a form which I now proceed to describe, and which I believe to be quite characteristic of the species.

Thick in texture, nearly orbicular, almost sessile, with a cordate base. Emarginate, or with a slight apex or none; margin sinuate or slightly crenate, besprinkled copiously with stellate hairs on the under side, the twig abundantly so; shining on the upper side.

The intermediate leaves scarcely changed in shape, but very coriaceous, and shining on both sides.

Mature Leaves.—They are very coriaceous, even when grown at a considerable distance from the sea. The leaves usually larger and coarser than those of two other Stringybarks (E. macrorrhyncha and E. eugenioides) ever are, and often very oblique, but not always so. The foliage may be described as “coarse” in its typical form.

Shining; equally green on both sides; venation spreading.

Buds.—The buds and peduncles are generally somewhat thick and angular or flattened, and contrast with the neatness of shape of those of E. eugenioides and E. macrorrhyncha.note Commonly found with a double operculum.

Flowers.—The filaments of the anthers sometimes dry dark.

Fruits.—In consequence of the fruits being sessile, or nearly so, and crowded into heads, these assume a polygonal shape at the base, as if they had been pressed together when in a plastic condition. With this exception, the fruits have the form of a very much compressed spheroid, the horizontal diameter of which is from one and a half times to twice the depth. The fruit is swollen out below the rim, which is sometimes very well defined, and of a red or brown colour. The fruit is sometimes truncate, but more frequently the rim is dome-shaped. There is great variability in the amount of exsertion of the valves. The fruit may be perfectly ripe without exserted valves, but a twig from the same tree may have them exserted.


  • 1. E. congesta, R.Br.
  • 2. E. capitellata, Sm. var. (?) latifolia, Benth.
  • 3. E. Baxteri, R.Br., and therefore E. santalifolia, F.v.M., var. (?) Baxteri, Benth.

Notes on the Synonyms.

1. E. congesta, R.Br., Port Jackson, 1804 (R. Brown, Iter Australiense, 1802–5, distributed by J. J. Bennett, 1876, under No. 4,727). Named and so labelled, “Eucalyptus congesta,” by Brown, but I am not aware that the name has been published.

2. E. capitellata, Sm. var. (?) latifolia, Benth.note

Leaves short, obliquely ovate, very thick and much more straight, the bark deciduous (Robertson). Victoria. Heath, near Portland, Robertson. Possibly a sessile-flowered form of E. santalifolia, but the form of the calyx is more that of E. capitellata, and quite different from that of E. santalifolia, var. Baxteri.—(B.Fl. iii, 206).

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The following specimens are in the National Herbarium, Sydney:—

  • (a) “Heath near Portland Bay, 20th March, 1842 (J. G. Robertson),” twigs bearing fruit.
  • (b) “Heath, 10 miles west of Roseneath, Glenelg River. Stringybark. Bark not deciduous, timber white, from 10 to 30 feet high, 21st January, 1844” (J.G. Robertson, No. 498); twigs bearing buds.
  • (c) “Heath, Steepbank Rivulet, growing at foot of 498, and supposed to be young of it, 12th June, 1843” (J.G. Robertson, No.500); juvenile foliage.

They are all E. capitellata, Sm., not differing sufficiently from the type to be called a variety. They are very close to the Port Jackson specimens, and certainly not broader leaved.

3.E. Baxteri, R.Br. (?)

E. santalifolia, F.v.M., var. (?) Baxteri. Leaves ovate, or ovate-oblong, obtuse, usually very oblique, under 3 in. long, very thick, with oblique, scarcely conspicuous veins. Penduncles thick and angular, mostly very short. Flowers closely sessile in a dense head. Calyx-tube nearly 3 lines diameter, and shorter than broad. Operculum thick and hemispherical, the buds nearly globular. Ovary flat-topped. R. Baxteri, R.Br. Herb. S. Coast, probably Kangaroo Island, Baxter (Herb. R.Br.). The heads of the flowers are very much like those of E. dumosa, var. conglobata, but the operculum, and especially the anthers, are quite different. Fruit not seen—(B.Fl.iii, 207.)

I wrote to Mr. James Britten, Department of Botany, British Museum, who kindly allowed Miss M. Smith, of Kew, to make drawings of two sheets of specimens in the herbarium under his charge. Both are twigs in flower and plump bud. One specimen bears the labels, “Eucalyptus, Mr. Wm. Baxter, received 1828; probably South Coast, perhaps Kangeroo (Brown in 1828 spelt Kangaroo thus) Island, or possibly V.D. Land” (R. Brown).

E. Baxteri, R.Br., perhaps a var. of capitellata” (Bentham).

Eucalyptus santalifolia, F.M., var. Baxteri, Benth. Fl. Austral. iii, p.207.”

The second specimen is labelled “Eucalyptus, Mr. Wm. Baxter, received 1828, E. santalifolia, F. Muell., var. Baxteri, Benth. Fl. Austral. iii, p. 207.”

Mr. Britten sent me a fragment of the type, and wrote: “I cannot make out where Bentham found the name E. Baxteri, Br., which he puts on the sheet. The plant is not described in Brown's MSS.”

The following specimens in the National Herbarium, Sydney, precisely match the above:—

  • (a) “Major Mitchell's Heath, near Portland, 20th March, 1842. Supposed 497 of J. G. R.” (J. G. Robertson, No.503)
  • (b) “Five miles from Portland, on road to Bridgewater Bay. Shrub 6-10 feet high. 5th February, 1844.” (J.G. Robertson, No. 497.)

Both these specimens are in flower and early fruit; No. 503 is in ripe fruit also. Both are E. capitellata, Sm. Some of the leaves of the Portland Bay specimens resemble those of some Victorian and South Australian specimens of

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E. Muelleriana, Howitt (E. pilularis, Sm., var. Muelleriana, Maiden), but the buds and fruit are different, the buds especially so. In a word, Robertson's 497, 498, 500, 503 are conspecific, in spite of the fact that under var. (?) latifolia Bentham draws attention to a certain difference in the shape of the calyx.

Bentham's inclusion of Baxter's specimens under E. santalifolia, F.v.M. (E. diversifolia, Bonpl.), is a mistake.E. diversifolia has uniformly narrower leaves, not to mention other points. At the same time, the geographical limits of E. capitellata, Sm., E. diversifolia, Bonpl., and E. Muelleriana, Howitt, unite near the Victorian-South Australian boundary, and botanists would do well to be on their guard not to commit the very pardonable error of confusing them with imperfect material. Portland Bay is on the south coast, 230 miles west of Melbourne, and about the same distance east of Adelaide.

I have recently received the same form from Portland (Mr. Adams, through Mr. A.E. Kitson), also specimens from Dagholm, also in Victoria (A.W. Howitt).


THIS species is confined to New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.


It has already been stated that the type came from Port Jackson. Around Sydney it appears to be almost (perhaps entirely) confined to the sandstone.

Northern Districts.—The following coastal specimens are strictly typical:— Morriset (A. Murphy). “Bark deeply furrowed, timber good.” “This species has always yellow inner bark,” Wyee (A. Murphy); Wallsend (W. W. Froggatt); Port Stephens district (A. Rudder).

The following northern specimens depart more or less from the type:—Small-fruited and therefore small-budded form, Booral district, 29th October, 1895 (A. Rudder). The small fruits and pointed buds depart from the type. Some botanists may look upon it as a var. of E. eugenioides with very exsert valves. See fig. 9, pl. 38. “Stringybark, Lawrence, Clarence River district.” (J.V. de Coque.)

The most northerly locality from which we have it is the Round Mountain, Guy Fawkes Range, 4,250 feet above the sea, and about 50 miles east of Armidale, on the Grafton road. (J.H.M.) Buds as compressed as it is possible for them to be. Fruits large and hemispherical. From the material available there may be room for opinion as to whether this is E. capitellata or E. macrorrhyncha, but the buds, at least, incline me to the view that it is E. capitellata.

  • (a) Near Apsley Falls, Walcha, No.1,217, R. H. Cambage (E. C. Andrews) is identical with the preceding.

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  • (b) Fourteen miles east of Deepwater at 4,000 feet, No.1,219, Cambage (E.C. Andrews). In intermediate foliage only, but doubtless identical with the preceding.
  • (c) Near Swamp Oak, Walcha, No.1,218, Cambage (E.C. Andrews) has a very short pedicel and is one of the specimens which show how difficult, and perhaps impossible, it is to say what line of demarcation there is between E. capitellata and E. macrorrhyncha.

Southern Localities.—E. capitellata in its strictly typical form is found for a considerable distance along the coast. The following trees a few miles inland are somewhat aberrant. For a southern tree (Clyde Mountain) see also p. 217 infra.

Bowral to Wombeyan (J.H.M. and R.H. Cambage); Yellowish tip-cat buds, normal juvenile foliage.

At Hilltop, near Mittagong, N.S.W., there is a variety locally known as “Blue-leaf Stringybark.” It is so called because the leaves, especially in the sunlight, are observed to have a bluish cast, and this bluish appearance (especially noticeable in the young leaves) is largely retained on drying for the herbarium. The tops of the trees can be readily noticed amongst the other foliage from a neighbouring eminence. The fruits are in spherical clusters, and I wrote (Agric. Gaz., N.S.W., vii, 268, May, 1896) that if it were desirable to distinguish this tree as a variety of eugenioides, the name agglomerata would be very suitable. (See also Deane and Maiden, Proc. Linn. Soc., 1896, p. 806.) See fig. 6, pl. 38.

I look upon this as one of the forms intermediate between E. eugenioides and E. capitellata. On account of the juvenile leaves, and of the fruits, I believe it to be nearer the latter than the former. The silvery or bluish cast of some Eucalyptus trees as they grow in the forest merits further inquiry. It is probable that several species present this appearance, perhaps at some seasons, and in some localities more than others. I have noticed typical E. eugenioides in the Blue Mountains, with a “silver top.”

The fruits of the tree now under notice precisely resemble those of Nye's Hill, Wingello. 8/99 (J.L. Boorman).

The juvenile leaves precisely match those from Mt. Spiraby, near Tenterfield (J.H.M.). They also precisely match those of what may be termed the Blue Mountains form of E. capitellata (infra, p. 216).

Other evidence as to connecting links between E. capitellata and E. eugenioides will be found under the latter species, see p. 238. Here I show that there are specimens which, as regards their fruits, should come under E. eugenioides, but their juvenile foliage is broad enough for E. capitellata.

“White Stringybark.”—Tall trees, white bark, good timber, leaves bluish tint, easily distinguished from “red” in the bush by the more robust growth. Nye's Hill, Wingello, 8/99 (J. L. Boorman). The fruits are as small as those of E. eugenioides, but compressed like those of E. capitellata. They precisely resemble

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those of the Hill-top Blue-leaf Stringybark, just referred to. The “bluish tint” of the leaves is also similar. Buds stellate, and strongly resemble those of E. eugenioides when young; coarse and angular like those of E. capitellata when more mature.

The following two specimens are instructive:—

  • (a) Berrima, September, 1901 (J.H.M. and J.L. Boorman).—Here we have fruits very similar to those of E. capitellata from Wingello, 8/99 (J. L. Boorman), and if not identical with them then intermediate between E. eugenioides and E. capitellata.
  • (b) Then we have a second series of specimens from Berrima, 9/01 (J.H.M. and J. L. Boorman), with the buds eugenioides-like and with the fruit hemispherical and capitellate. Figures will explain these two forms, which seem to be intermediate between eugenioides and capitellata. I place (a) with E. capitellata and (b) with E. eugenioides. (See fig. 7, pl.38.)

Western Localities.—I now turn to a form which may provisionally be referred to as the Blue Mountains form of the species, because it is so readily studied there, but it also occurs coastwards and southwards.

The following accountnote was prepared by Mr. R. H. Cambage and myself (only an unimportant addition has been made):—

We now draw attention to a Eucalypt from the Blue Mountains, which has almost invariably gone under the name of E. capitellata, Sm., but which is worthy of special remark.

Bark.—Not a perfect Stringybark, as compared, e.g., with macrorrhyncha, which is more fibrous. The more fibrous bark is yellowish; close to the wood it is white. Has clean limbs, at times slightly ribbony.

Reference to the bark being not a typical Stringybark is borne out by the Mount Wilson name, which is Messmate. Mr. H. Deane, at Blackheath, some years ago, called it a Peppermint bark, and suggested hybridism.

On a specimen from Jenolan Caves, the collector (W. F. Blakely) has a note, “Bark on the lower portion of the stem light reddish-brown in colour, resembling Stringybark; upper portion, grey; branches, yellowish-green.”


Juvenile Leaves.— The margins undulate, and with a reddish rim when fresh. The leaves roughish, particularly on the lower side, owing to the presence of stellate hairs which are also on the edges of the leaves and on the twigs.

In the intermediate stage they are Eugenia-like and shining on both sides, only very slightly darker on the upper side.

The branches are brittle and appear to be much less fibrous than those of E. eugenioides in the vicinity.

Mature Leaves.—Resemble those of typical E. capitellata.

Buds.—Clavate. Mount Wilson specimens, and others from the higher parts of the Blue Mountains, show the buds rugose, after the fashion, though not so well marked, as some from Victoria.

Flowers.—Anthers reniform.

Fruits.—Packed in a dense head; often white dotted. In the ripe fruits valves well exsert, rather more so than in E. macrorrhyncha. Indeed, the Rev. Dr. Woolls labelled the Mount Wilson specimens E. macrorrhyncha.

In that species, however, the rim remains domed in mature fruits, while in this Blue Mountains form of E. capitellata the rim is turned outwards till it becomes almost a continuation of the calyx.

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Habitat.—We have collected this form from Woodford to Cox's River (Bowenfels) and the Jenolan Caves, and also at Mount Wilson. Further localities to connect with the coast will be looked for. The most westerly locality from which it has been obtained is Mudgee, where it is called “Silvertop” (which points to a bluish cast) according to Mr. R. T. Baker, who collected it; also Corricudgy Mount, R. T. Baker, October, 1897.

We have the same form on the Clyde Mountain (southern mountain ranges), No.31, W. Baeuerlen, July, 1890.

In the Outer Domain, Sydney, we have an interesting tree, which is au naturel, and which attracts attention from the fact that it is more “bark-bound” than the majority of E. capitellata trees around Port Jackson, that is to say, the bark, though fibrous in texture, is thinner, denser, and more closely appressed to the trunk.

The juvenile leaves and the intermediate leaves depart from the type, being narrower, more lanceolate, and more closely resemble those of the Blue Mountains form just referred to.

Incidentally, it may be remarked that the orbicular suckers of E. capitellata from type localities (Port Jackson) would appear to be a product of an exposed situation. All the forms of E. capitellata appear to have more or less lanceolate juvenile leaves in their earliest stage.

Seedlings raised from typical capitellata trees early take on a lanceolar shape with entire margins. This is succeeded by an undulate margin, with stellate hairs on the leaves and on the irregularly-toothed margin and twigs. These display a complete similarity to those of the Blue Mountains, and it seems impossible to assume that they do not belong to the same species. It would appear impossible to seize on characters even to make a well-defined variety.

Both of us have independently grown seedlings from Port Jackson and Port Hacking seed, and we cannot see any difference between the seedlings and those of the Blue Mountains trees.


There are two coastal forms of E. capitellata, as might be expected from the extensive geographical range of the species—the New South Wales, and the Victorian-South Australian.

Howitt states in his “Eucalypts of Gippsland” that he has not seen it growing there at a less elevation than 500 feet, and that it cannot, therefore, strictly speaking, be called one of the littoral species. In New South Wales, and also near the Victorian-South Australian border, it, however, often grows quite close to the sea.

Mr. Howitt writes privately—“ E. capitellata grows to a large size in the mountain districts, for instance, Moondarra, Wandin Yallock, and elsewhere in the Yarra watershed. In the western district the tree has usually a dwarfed habit.”

See also my observations on the Victorian specimens referred to E. capitellata, var. (?) latifolia and E. Baxteri, supra, p. 213.

Form with rugose buds.—I now place together some further plants of this species with more or less rugose buds. I have already drawn attention to the subject,note and think that this tuberculate appearance will be found to be somewhat common now that attention has been invited to it. The specimens from Mount Lofty, South Australia (M. Koch) may be compared.

I do not name this rugose-budded form as a variety, but, in view of the difficulty of “breaking down” such a widely-diffused and variable species as E. capitellata, it seems well to point out any prominent characters, to aid in classification.

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Grampians, 2,000 feet, Victoria (H. B. Williamson). These specimens, as regards the broad leaves and fruits, are very similar to the coastal Victorian form, but the buds (both calyx and operculum) are markedly rugose. Specimens also from the Grampians (C. Walter) have narrower leaves (nearer the type). The fruits are more pear-shaped, but there were only three in the umbel, and they are not much compressed. The specimens do not really differ from the preceding.

Darlimurla, S. Gippsland (H. Deane). The leaves and fruits typical (fruits slightly pedicellate), but the buds rugose. Fruits a little small.

All these specimens are practically alike. They are all E. capitellata, Sm. In their rugose buds they undoubtedly show affinity to E. alpina, Lindl.


Sandy rises covered with fern undergrowth, Narracoorte (W. Gill). Clavate, scarcely angular buds, with domed fruits, valves well exsert.

Mount Lofty, South Australia (R. H. Cambage, 20th March, 1901, also W. Gill). Short, broadish leaves, ovoid, shiny, slightly tuberculate buds, almost sessile, squat, conoid to hemispherical domed fruits. See fig. 11, pl. 37.

Stringybark, Mount Lofty Ranges (Max Koch, September, 1902). The figures (fig. 1, pl. 38) show the remarkable variation in the shape of the fruits in this tree. Buds rather small, some with conical operculum, and some with clavate shape of buds; many of them slightly rugose. I doubt if the Mount Lofty specimens can be separated from those labelled “Eucalyptus fabrorum, Schlechtendal. In montibus steriorilibus elatis, November, 1848. Dr. Mueller” (probably Mount Lofty, South Australia); see this Work, Part i, p. 40; Cf. also Part ii, p. 60.


  • 1. E. eugenioides, Sieb. See under E. eugenioides, p. 239.
  • 2. E. Muelleriana, Howitt. See under E. Muelleriana, p. 224.
  • 3. E. macrorrhyncha, F.v.M. See under E. macrorrhyncha, p. 230.
  • 4. E. santalifolia, F.v.M.

E. santalifolia agrees with E. capitellata in the almost total absence of flower-stalklets, but it attains not the size of a large tree, the leaves are smaller, more rigid, of a lighter green, less conspicuously veined, and not remarkably inequilateral, the flowers are generally less numerous on each stalk, the calyces are larger, with wider tube and longer lid, the stamens not inflexed before expansion, the anthers more cordate than renate, and the fruits usually smaller, not to speak of the seedlings of the two species, those of E. capitellata, according to specimens transmitted by the Rev. Dr. Woolls, being star-hairy and producing leaves narrow-lanceolar (sic, J.H.M.) though rounded at the base also.—(Eucalyptographia, under E. santalifolia).

I have already dealt with the affinity of these two species; see p. 213.

  • 5. E. alpina, Lindl. I have made some observations on the affinities of these two species, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., 1904, p. 766.