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XXXV. Eucalyptus hæmastoma, Sm.

Trans. Linn. Soc. iii (1797), 286. See also “Eucalyptographia” (Mueller).

Following is the original description:—

Operculo hemisphærico depresso mucronulato, umbellis lateralibus, terminalibusque: pedunculis compressis, ramulis angulatis, fructu subgloboso.

The leaves are coriaceous, lanceolate, terminating in a long linear point.

Flowers in umbels, not capitula, their covers depressed at the top, but suddenly terminating in a little point.

Fruit globose, cut off at the summit, its orifice surrounded by a broad deep-red border.

This species has a great affinity with the Leptospermum umbellatum of Gaertner, but I dare not assert it to be the same.

The type form.—The species is found in two principal forms—a coarse form (the type), and a slender one; the latter with small flowers and fruits, and known as variety micrantha in consequence.

As regards the type, the leaves, flowers, and fruits are alike larger, and the leaves thicker, but, as a rule, the tree itself does not attain the magnitude of its variety.

With Bentham's amplified description of the species as given in B.Fl. iii, 212, I, in the main, agree, so that it will only be necessary to add a few notes.

Vernacular names.—“White Gum” is the commonest and most appropriate name for this species.

Bark.—Smooth, with a few ribbony flakes near the butt.

Timber.—Red, and of an inferior character, though a fairly lasting timber for posts in the districts in which it grows.

Juvenile leaves.—Broadly lanceolate, somewhat similar in shape to the adult leaves, only larger; 4 to 6 inches long by 1¼ inch broad, are measurements of some from the Sydney district.

Mature leaves.—Coriaceous, thick, spreading, and veins very distinct, oblique, and several starting from near the base of the leaf. As in the case of some other species, the mature foliage of trees growing close to the sea is very coarse and thick.

Peduncles.—Angular and flattened.

Calyx-tube.—Much longer than the operculum and insensibly tapering into the pedicel.

Operculum.—Pointed when young, becoming more hemispherical as maturity is approached. Often the buds may be described as clavate.

Fruits.—Speaking generally, the shape of the fruits reminds one of a pear. The rim is more or less domed and usually brownish or red (hence the specific name). I do not agree that, speaking at all generally, “the capsule is slightly depressed,” as stated at B.Fl. iii, 212.

Pedicels not so thin, being more tapering than is the case with var. micrantha.

Sometimes the fruits are hardly pear-shaped, but this is unusual. We have some nearly hemispherical, but much larger than those of var. micrantha. At the same time, there are fruits which undoubtedly show transition between E. hæmastoma and its variety micrantha.

The anther is reniform and is figured at fig. 14d, plate 47. It seems to differ very little whether typical or var. micrantha.

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(1) The small-fruited form (variety micrantha).

Vernacular names.—“White Gum” is a very common name. It, however, in one or other of the many districts in which it occurs, usually goes under some name referring to the softness or brittleness of its timber, e.g., “Cabbage Gum,” “Snappy Gum,” “Brittle Gum,” “Brittle Jack.”

Bark.—Smooth, right to the ground. The colour of the bark is usually white, but sometimes, particularly in localities comparatively remote from the sea, the bark is at certain seasons of the year yellowish. I have seen the trunk as yellow as if washed with yellow ochre. Away from the sea, also, the bark appears to have a greater tendency to peel off in patches, giving it more or less a spotted appearance.

Timber.—Soft, red. An excellent timber for fencing posts, and in some districts, especially the southern table-land, preferred for this purpose. At the same time, excellence is comparative, and in the coast districts we find other timbers of special merit.

Juvenile leaves.—Nearly ovate, then nearly oblong (rounded at both ends), and with crenulate margins. As growth proceeds, they become attenuate at both ends and somewhat falcate.

The seedling leaves tend to be vertical, and therefore are equally green (blue-green) on both sides. The twigs are red, as also in mature specimens. Venation less acute than in E. Sieberiana.

They then become alternate, ovate-lanceolate, very acuminate, a little oblique, up to 6 inches long and 2½ inches broad. The intramarginal vein much removed from the edge. From this stage the foliage gradually develops into the mature stage.

Mature leaves.—These vary somewhat, which is not a matter for surprise, considering the extensive range of the tree. They are often thick and glossy. Those from Bargo Brush are of this character, and 5½ inches long and 1 to 1½ broad. Those from Queanbeyan are narrow-lanceolate. Some in the Sydney district are quite small, usually not exceeding 3 by ½ inch. The foliage of many trees in the Mudgee district is quite sparse. In the Macleay and Hastings districts the trees frequently have broadish, lanceolate long leaves up to 7 inches by 1½. Sometimes the leaves are hooked at the ends, a character more general in Eucalypts than was at one time supposed.

But there is no doubt that the leaves of this form pass insensibly into those of the normal species. Specimens from the Blue Mountains (e.g., Mt. Victoria) show this transition very clearly.

Operculum.—Nearly hemispherical or with a small umbo; perhaps less pointed than in the typical form.

Fruits.—The fruits are usually as flat-topped (they are but rarely slightly domed) as in any species of Eucalyptus, and therefore are not satisfactorily represented in the figure of E. hæmastoma in the “Eucalyptographia.” The fruits are small, nearly hemispherical, rarely tapered below, have thin pedicels, and are usually numerous. Some from Queanbeyan are [?] of an inch in diameter. Those from Bargo, &c., have flat tops and sharp rims. Some from the Mudgee district and South Coast afford instances of slight doming of the fruits. Occasionally they are depressed hemispherical—almost tazza-shaped. They are often pale-coloured and with markedly red mouths.

I have fruits from Mt. Wilson which, though quite small, taper like those of normal hæmastoma, and are in some respects connecting links.

Size.—Usually 30 or 40 feet in height, with a trunk diameter of 2 or 3 feet.

Mr. Andrew Murphy, in sending me specimens from Morisset, has trto differentiate between the type-form and the small-fruited form in the following words:—

  • “1. Broad-leaved White Gum, similar to narrow-leaved variety in appearance, much larger tree, generally grows in high dry country. Both these Gums are similar to E. coriacea. Large fruits.”
  • “2. Narrow-leaved White Gum. A very white bark to the ground. Straight tree. Small fruits.”

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But I repeat that the two forms run into each other and represent, in my view, climatic and soil differences only.

(2) var. capitata, var. nov.

In some cases, trees belonging to this species have fruits in dense heads. In these trees the foliage is coarser and larger than that of var. micrantha usually is; at the same time, the fruits, while numerous in the head, have thicker pedicels than those of var. micrantha; as regards size, the fruits are intermediate between the type and its variety. The bark is smooth.

This form, for which I propose the name variety capitata, is figured at 6, Plate xxx, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., xxii (1897), by Mr. Deane and myself, under var. micrantha.

The type is Mt. Victoria, 1st April, 1889 (J. H. Maiden). There are closely allied forms, not strictly capitate, and it occurs on the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury Ranges.