39. XXXVIII. Eucalyptus leptophleba, F. v. Mueller.

Description  332 
Notes supplementary to the description  332 
Synonym  332 
Range  333 
Affinities  334 

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XXXVIII. Eucalyptus leptophleba, F.v.M.

Journ. Linn. Soc., iii, 86 (1859).

THE original description is in Latin, and may be translated as follows:—

A tree; the branches below nearly terete, and above slightly angled; leaves alternate, scarcely petiolate, falcate-lanceolate, without evident oil-dots, very finely veined, intramarginal vein but little removed from the edge; umbels axillary and terminal, 3–5 flowered, in pairs, in threes, or in panicles; peduncles angled; pedicels shorter; the tube of the calyx semiovate; fruits semiovate, not ribbed, 4–5 celled; the valves deltoid, acuminate, and sunk below the rim.

Habitat.—In grass land near the Gilbert River. Flowering in summer.

A small or large tree; bark of a dirty grey, rugose, fissured on the trunk and persistent on the branches. Leaves mostly 3–5 inches long, up to 1 inch broad. Primary peduncles equalling or exceeding the petioles. Pedicels of the calyx variable, shorter than the tube. Fruit 3–4 lines long, not contracted at the orifice. Valves with tips scarcely exserted. Near to E. patellaris.

It is briefly described in B.Fl. iii, 221.

Notes supplementary to the description.

E. leptophleba, or Blackbutt, is a large tree of quick growth, rising to a height of about 100 feet, with a diameter of 3–4 feet; bark dark, persistent, and separating into numerous small pieces (similar to that of E. tesselaris) on the trunk, grey, smooth, and deciduous on the branches. This tree has the general appearance of E. tereticornis, with the bark of E. tesselaris and the fruit of E. crebra. The wood is red, hard, and durable, but not much used, in consequence of being generally hollow in the centre. It is only known from Queensland, and is dispersed through the scrubby country westward from Gaganjo.— (P. O'Shanesy, Rockhampton).

“Yudhulwan” is the aboriginal name, according to Mr. O'Shanesy.

Attention is invited to the fact that this species is variously described as “Ironbark” and “Box.” This is not the only Ironbark which becomes a Box as tropical regions are approached, and E. crebra and E. melanophloia may be mentioned in this connection. It would appear that the outer bark becomes flatter and more fibrous, or softer and more flaky, in warm regions.

The silky sheen of leaves of E. leptophleba (or drepanophylla) appears to be a character.

The kino of E. drepanophylla is described by C. Mannich in Journ. Pharm., Chim., (6) xvi, 216; abstract in Pharm. Journ., xv (4), 523 (November, 1902).


E. drepanophylla, F.v.M., in B.Fl. iii, 221 (1866).

In the “Eucalyptographia,” under E. siderophloia, Mueller speaks of “E. drepanophylla, which may be perhaps a mere variety of the imperfectly-known E. leptophleba.”

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In the “Second Census,” E. leptophleba is suppressed, but E. drepanophylla is recognised.

E. drepanophylla includes as a variety E. leptophleba.” (J. G. Luehmann, in Proc. A.A.A.S., 530, 1898.)

This cannot be, as E. leptophleba is the older name, but it is additional testimony that the species are the same.

E. leptophleba, F.v.M., and E. drepanophylla, F.v.M., are imperfectly-known species, but there seems no doubt at all that one is a synonym of the other, and therefore E. leptophleba, the older name, must stand. E. drepanophylla is more fully described, and it is not necessary to redescribe it until more field knowledge is available. This is work for Queensland botanists, and suites of specimens from various localities should be collected, and juvenile leaves should be especially remembered, since at present these are unknown.


E. leptophleba is found in Queensland, though I believe it may occur in New South Wales. The type comes from the Gilbert River.

The following are specimens referred to E. leptophleba by Mueller himself:—

  • (a) Trinity Bay (Cairns). Fruit rather more spherical than those of drepanophylla usually are.
  • (b) In bud, from Rockingham Bay (Dallachy).
  • (c) A specimen of small conoid fruits, stated to have been collected by O'Shanesy between the Dawson and Mackenzie Rivers, differing from any other fruits, I have seen labelled by Mueller either leptophleba or drepanophylla.

I doubt the correctness of the naming of this specimen.

Bentham gives the following localities and vernacular names for E. drepanophylla:—

N. Australia.—N.W. coast, A. Cunningham.

Queensland.—E. coast (A. Cunningham); Keppel Bay and Shoalwater Bay (R. Brown); Burdekin Expedition (Fitzalan); Port Denison, “Ironbark-tree” (Fitzalan, Dallachy); Bowen River, “Ironbark,” (Bowman).

The specimens from the N.W. coast that I have seen are in young fruit (the style still persistent), and with a few stamens on one flower. In my view, they are doubtful.

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I have seen specimens of the following, named by Mueller, and chiefly in the Melbourne and Calcutta herbaria:—

S.E. Carpentaria, “Box tree,” in fruit-only (E. Palmer); Sources of the South Coen River, York Peninsula, in fruit (Stephen Johnson); “North Coast,” R. Br., 1802–5, not in fruit, pale-coloured operculum; Endeavour River, N. Holland, Lieutenant King (afterwards Admiral P. P. King) ex herb. Lambert in herb. Cant.; Palmer River, in fruit only (collector?); Daintree River (Fitzalan), in flower only; Cleveland Bay (Townsville), in bud, pale-coloured operculum (S. Johnson); Edgecumbe (? Range), near Port Denison, a poor stunted tree, 20 feet high (Dallachy); Port Denison, in flower (Fitzalan); Ravenswood, Burdekin River, in fruit (S. Johnson); Mt. Elliot (S.W. of Bowling Green Bay), in flower only (Fitzalan); Stuart River (Nanango District), with the ordinary sub-cylindrical, and with more hemispherical fruits (S. Johnson).


E. drepanophylla differs from E. crebra chiefly in the large flowers, and in the larger, harder, and more globular fruit. From E. leptophleba it is chiefly distinguished by the leaves not so thick, with more oblique veins. It is not impossible, however, that E. melanophloia, drepanophylla, trachyphloia, leptophleba, and crebra, all of them Ironbarks, may be but forms of one species. (B.Fl. iii, 221.)

In the specimens I have seen, the leaves of E. drepanophylla are thicker, if anything, rather than “not so thick” as those of E. leptophleba; indeed, I do not think they differ at all. Almost without exception, the fruits of E. drepanophylla, determined by Mueller himself, are sub-cylindrical. The words “more globular” seem to me inappropriate in the connection in which they are used.

E. melanophloia, trachyphloia (a Bloodwood), and crebra are good species, and certainly different. E. leptophleba (drepanophylla) is again different, though closest to crebra of the species mentioned.

E. drepanophylla, which may be perhaps a mere variety of the imperfectly-known E. leptophleba, is still nearer to E. siderophloia than E. crebra; it is generally of more stunted growth; its leaves are narrower, of a paler hue, more opaque, usually also more curved and provided with stomata of almost equal number on either page; the flower-stalks are less angular and rather thinner; the lid is blunter, and only of about the same length as that of the calyx-tube; the filaments show a somewhat inflected curvature while in bud; the style is shorter, and bears a slightly broader stigma.—(Under E. siderophloia, in Mueller's “Eucalyptographia.”)