34. XXXIII. Eucalyptus Sieberiana, F. v. Mueller.

Description  306 
Notes supplementary to the description  306 
Synonyms  307 
Range  307 
Affinities  309 

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XXXIII. Eucalyptus Sieberiana, FV.M.

DESCRIBED and figured in “Eucalyptographia,” Decade ii (1879). I have seen the type, and the fruits depicted are not quite satisfactory. It is very rarely that the fruits are so small as shown on the plate, nor is the drawing of them good.

This is the species referred to as E. virgata, Sieb. (B.Fl, iii, 202), in part. I would suggest consideration of my remarks on this subject in Part IX, p. 275, of this work.

It may be described as follows:—

Vernacular names.—“Mountain Ash” is its usual name. It attains its greatest luxuriance in mountain districts, and its timber is thought to resemble Ash. It is sometimes called “Black Ash,” but this name should be reserved for E. stellulata. In Tasmania it is sometimes called “White-top Ironbark,” but in that State there are no true Ironbarks. It has been also called Blackbutt, but that name should be reserved for E. pilularis. It was called “Yowut” by the aborigines of the Gippsland District, according to Howitt. It has been called “Messmate” or “Stringybark” at the Dromedary, N.S.W.; but the use of such names for this species is to be deprecated.

Bark.—In young trees the bark somewhat resembles “Stringybark” when viewed from a little distance. Hence the tree has been sometimes called Stringybark with a qualifying adjective. In older trees the bark becomes denser, darker coloured, more furrowed, and rugged in character. The casual observer might be excused if he took the tree for an “Ironbark,” but a closer examination would show the bark to be neither dense nor tough enough. The small branches are smooth.

The smooth bark of saplings appears always to be glaucous.

Timber.—Pale-coloured and fissile, less variable perhaps than that of many of the Eucalyptus. Very suitable for inside work, but not durable when not protected from the weather.

Juvenile leaves.—The seedling leaves are vertically arranged; of the same colour on both sides; glaucous, and larger than those of E. piperita. The venation is rather acute with the midrib. Seedling and sucker leaves are glaucous, dull-coloured on drying, and have the veins more spreading than is the case in the mature foliage.

Mature leaves.—The leaves are usually smooth, shining, and coriaceous; they are more or less falcate. The venation is spreading.

Leaves from Mt. Wilson in the west and Barber's Creek in the south are hooked; probably this will be found to be no unusual character.

Buds clavate.

Operculum.—Hemispherical or slightly umbonate. Pale-coloured opercula are often observed in the Blue Mountains. Double opercula sometimes occur in this species.

Inflorescence.—Frequently ocellate; this is sometimes a useful guide in distinguishing this from allied species.

Fruits.—Pear-shaped, usually a little oblique, the rim sometimes slightly concave, particularly when ripe. Edge of rim frequently sharp. Sometimes the plane of the rim is not at right-angles to the axis of the fruit. Shining. The rim usually well defined and often dark as in E. hœmastoma.

Notes supplementary to the description.

There is a narrow-leaved form, both at the Sugarloaf Mountain (Braidwood) and at the Dromedary. Tasmanian specimens appear to have longer, narrower, and more falcate leaves. There is a broad-leaved and very glaucous form in the Snowy Mountains.

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The fruit is more hemispherical in some Tasmanian specimens.

Apparently the fruits attain their largest size on the Blue Mountains. It would appear that the fruits of E. Sieberiana are usually more pear-shaped and larger in New South Wales.


IN “Eucalyptographia,” under E. Sieberiana, F.V.M., Mueller gives E. virgata, Sieb., as a synonym. It is not proper to state it so. Mueller thought, when describing it, he was suppressing the “misleading” name virgata for it. The explanation is that E. virgata, Sieber, was for many years confused by Bentham, by Mueller, and other botanists with the tree Mueller, in spite of himself, properly separated from virgata under the name Sieberiana. I have explained the situation under E. virgata, at Part IX, p. 275, of this work, and need not repeat myself here.

I know no true synonyms of E. Sieberiana, F.V.M.


TASMANIA, Victoria, and New South Wales. It occurs in the Snowy Mountains (near the Victorian Border), at an elevation of 4–5,000 feet, and thence northward along the ranges west at least as far as Mudgee. On the Snowy Mountains it is interesting to observe that E. Sieberiana is always found on slopes with a southern aspect.

The species loves high, rocky, stony mountain ranges, on poor barren ground, and never takes to grassy localities.

In his “Second Census,” Mueller records this species from South Australia, but, under E. vitrea, p. 167, Part VI, and p. 189, Part VII, of this work, I have shown that this is founded on a misapprehension. E. Sieberiana should be struck out of the flora of that State until additional evidence is forthcoming.

In Tasmania it is chiefly found near the north-east coast. Mueller quotes in his “Eucalyptographia”:—

“Frequent on granitic coast-ridges and in valleys of rather sandy or stony soil as well as on slate-hills, from Falmouth to George's Bay, occurring also on hills of the sandstone formation north of St. Mary's (Bissill, Simson), and on East Mount Field at elevations of from 1,000 to 1,500 feet.”

As regards Victoria, he says:—

“In the forests towards the Upper Yarra waters and of Gippsland, ascending to 4,000 feet elevation, extending along the Genoa up to the White Rock Mountains.”

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Dr. A. W. Howitt, in an official (unpublished) report, says:—

“The Rough-barked Mountain Ash of Gippsland (E. Sieberiana) is known also by the trivial names of “Gumtop,” “Silvertop,” and “Bastard Ironbark.” White Ironbark grows from near the sea level to an elevation of about 3,500 feet, where it abruptly ceases. It is found extensively as the main forest tree in many parts of Gippsland as at Walhalla, Wilson's Promontory, the Omeo Road, Gelantipy, &c. It also grows in places in the northern fall of the Divide.”

Following is a note by him on the same tree:—

“Yowut” or “Mountain Ash,” near the top of the ridge half way from Eaglehawk to the Thomson River. The bark is deeply eroded, but not so deeply as the Ironbark in Western Victoria. It becomes smoother in the upper part of the bole and the limbs are always more or less smooth. The extreme twigs are reddish in colour. The young saplings have often in the upper part a smooth bluish-grey bark. The branches shoot up pretty straight.


It is plentiful about Port Jackson, Broken Bay, Port Hacking, and Counties of Cumberland and Camden generally. It is common on the Blue Mountains.

Southern Localities.—“Eucalyptus virgata, Sieb., ‘Mountain Ash.’ Tree, 120–150 ft. Bark, persistent, ridged. Eden, New South Wales (Oldfield).” Oldfield's specimens from this locality in several herbaria are E. Sieberiana, FV.M.

Nos. 266 and 370 of S. Mossman, Tororago (Tarago?), Twofold Bay (it is really near Braidwood, but on the old road to Twofold Bay), in Herb. Cant. Specimens collected in 1854, presumably for the Paris Exhibition.

On the cliffs at Eden, also Pipe Clay to Eden (J.H.M.). The lower parts of the filaments (especially before expansion) are purple, giving the flowers an ornamental “eye.”

From 4–5,000 feet on dry ridges, Snowy Mountains (resembling the Victorian specimen) (W. Baeuerlen); Nimitybelle (A. Rudder), and Tantawanglo Mountain (W. Baeuerlen). In both these adjacent localities known as “Mountain Ash” and “Black Ash.”

Copy of original label of Mr. C. S. Wilkinson, late New South Wales Government Geologist:—

No. 6, “Stringybark, Messmate.” Trees up to 4 feet in diameter growing straight and lofty, the trunk covered with deeply furrowed fibrous bark of dark-brown colour, resembling that on Ironbark, but not so hard. Branches and boughs smooth and white. Dromedary Ranges, 1,500 feet above sea-level. Formation Silurian, 2nd November, 1878.

This is E. Sieberiana and is referred to in “Eucalyptographia” (under E. Sieberiana), and also by me in Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., xxix, 759 (1904).

Conjola (W. Heron); Sugar Loaf Mountain, Braidwood (W. Baeuerlen); Reedsdale, near Braidwood (H. Deane); Queanbeyan (H. Deane); Jervis Bay (J.H.M.); Iron Pot Creek, Badgery's Crossing to Nowra (W. Forsyth); Cambewarra Mountain (J. V. de Coque).

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“White-topped Messmate,” Kangaloon. “Grows on rich soil; inferior timber. Carefully distinguished locally between “Black-topped Messmate,” a good timber which grows on poor soil” (J. Bruce). I can see no botanical difference in the two sets of specimens, and Mr. Bruce's observation is an illustration of what has been often remarked “Good timber, poor soil,” and vice versâ.

“White Ash.” Hoskinstown (W. Daniel); Box Point to Barber's Creek, also Nye's Hill, Wingello (J. L. Boorman and J.H.M.); Bowral to Bullio (R. H. Cambage and J.H.M.); “Stringybark,” Mittagong (W. W. Froggatt); Berrima (J. L. Boorman and J.H.M.); Hill Top (J.H.M.); Appin (J.H.M.).

Western Localities.—Has on the Blue Mountains a range very similar to that of E. piperita, and is confined to the more barren parts of the mountains.

Mt. Wilson (Jesse Gregson); Jenolan Caves and Black Range generally (W. Blakely).

I have seen specimens from the Mudgee district (Forester C. Marriott), but there are none in this Herbarium.

I have seen no E. Sieberiana specimens north of the above localities, but certainly expect to hear of such in the mountain ranges going north from the places named.


1. With E. virgata, Sieb.

This has been dealt with under E. virgata, in Part IX.

2. With E. Luehmanniana, F.v.M., var. altior, Deane and Maiden.

Dealt with under E. Luehmanniana in Part IX. E. Sieberiana has a rugged black bark; the variety of Luehmanniana is a Ribbony Gum. Sometimes the unripe fruit and herbarium specimens generally very strongly resemble those of E. Sieberiana, but I think the drawings in the last and present Parts will put botanists on their guard.

3. With E. Consideniana, F.v.M.

Will be dealt with under E. Consideniana.

4. With E. hœmastoma, Sm.

Mueller, in “Eucalyptographia,” speaking of E. Sieberiana and E. hœmastoma, states that “the stem bark of the former is far more ridged than that of the latter, the veins of the leaves of E. Sieberiana are less spreading and less prominent, while the fruit is usually longer, more exactly semiovate and never verging towards an hemispheric form.” In regard to these statements, I would observe that E. hæmastoma is a smooth-barked tree, and that those rough-barked trees which were thought to show some transition towards E. Sieberiana (as well as to other species) have since been shown to belong to other species.

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The Sydney or depauperate form is often confused with E. hæmastoma, as the young trees often have the appearance of White Gum if the butts be not carefully examined, and they are often so small that it is not easy to detect the rough bark.

If E. Sieberiana leaves be crushed in the warm hand, they evolve a slight odour of peppermint which is not observable in E. hæmastoma.

In the “Flora Australiensis,” Bentham also draws attention to the affinity between E. Sieberiana and E. hæmastoma, and lays some stress on the differences between their anthers. I am of opinion that it is impossible to distinguish the two species by means of their anthers.

5. With E. coriacea, A. Cunn.

Both Bentham and Mueller compare E. Sieberiana and E. coriacea. The closest similarity appears to be in the shape of the fruits. For fruits of E. coriacea, see Plates 26 and 27, Part V of this work. They are coarser and more fleshy than those of E. Sieberiana; the coarse, fleshy, spreading veins of E. coriacea are also characteristic and quite different from those of E. Sieberiana. In addition, E. coriacea is a smooth-barked tree, while E. Sieberiana is rough-barked.

6. With E. obliqua, L'Hérit., var. alpina, Maiden (E. delegatensis, R. T. Baker).

This is that “Mountain Ash” which, in the high Southern Ranges of New South Wales, and also in Victoria, “succeeds” E. Sieberiana at a higher elevation than the latter attains. It is the E. Sieberiana (b) of A. W. Howittnote; see also p. 69, Part II, and p. 177, Part VI, of this work. I desire to pay a further visit to this tree in the field, after which I will again refer to it and contrast it with E. Sieberiana.

7. With E. vitrea, R. T. Baker.

Mueller, “Eucalyptographia” (under E. Sieberiana) says:—

…. occurring also on low moist sandy tracts between the Glenelg River and Mount Gambier and Lake Bonney (Dr. Wehl). ….

…. in the cripply Stringybark forests near Lake Bonney (this is in South Australia; a long narrow body of water running parallel with the coast-line, north from Cape Banks, and not very far from the Victorian border.—J.H.M.), dwarfed to 10 or 12 feet, though amply flowering.

I am of opinion that these specimens come nearest to or are referable to E. vitrea, R. T. Baker; see pp. 164–7, Part VI, and p. 189, Part VII, of this work.

Since the above was written I have received specimens from Penola Forest, S.A. (not far from the Victorian border), from Mr. Walter Gill, with the following notes:—

…. what everything indicates to be E. Sieberiana. It is a stunted form and weeping habit, and grows in low-lying country under water in winter.

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They have certainly affinity to E. Sieberiana, but I think the specimens are referable to E. vitrea, not quite typical, which is not to be surprised at. Note the low-lying habitat, which is a character of vitrea and not of Sieberiana.

In addition to Mr. H.B. Williamson's specimens, referred to at p. 166, Part VI, I have an interesting one from him labelled “No. 933,” from Portland, Victoria. “Height 10 feet, probably from a young tree.” Mr. Williamson had no more definite information to give me concerning these specimens, which seem referable to E. vitrea, but they have remarkably broad coarse foliage, and most botanists would, pardonably, refer them at once to E coriacea. These specimens would appear to strengthen my view that E. vitrea is a coriacea hybrid. Portland is not far from the other South Australian localities cited.

I think that the descriptions and figures given of E. vitrea and E. Sieberiana should put botanists on their guard in regard to two forms presenting a good deal of external resemblance, so far as herbarium specimens are concerned.