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CCXLIV. E. ptychocarpa F.v.M.

In Journ. Linn. Soc. iii, 90, (1859).

FOLLOWING is a translation of the original:—

A tree, with angular branchlets, leaves large, thick, alternate, obliquely lanceolate, drawn out to a point, moderately petiolate, rather shining on the upper side, paler beneath, penniveined, marginate, imperforate, peripheral vein close to the margin, umbels terminal, paniculate, few to seven-flowered, partial peduncles two or three times longer than the angled pedicels, calyx markedly 8-ribbed, operculum hemispherical, two or three times shorter than the tube. Capsules large, ovate-campanulate, deeply 8-ribbed, 4-celled, valves deeply included, fertile seeds with long wings on the upper side.

On woody creeks and on drying watercourses, near the sources of the Rivers Wentworth, Wickham, and Limmen Bight. Flowering in March and April.

A medium-sized or large tree with a dirty, greyish, wrinkled bark, somewhat fibrous within and everywhere persistent. Leaves 5–7 inches long, 1½–2 inches broad. Capsule 1–1½ inches long, contracted a little at the orifice, valves short. Seeds 2 lines long—that is, the fertile ones—bearing a membranous obovate wing 3 lines long, the numerous sterile ones smaller, and with narrow wings.

The trunk in the structure of the bark holds an intermediate place between the Stringybarks and Boxes.

Bentham (B. Fl. iii, 255) described it as follows:—

A middle-sized or tall tree, with a persistent bark, intermediate between that of the Stringybarks and the Box trees (F. Mueller). Leaves large, from broadly ovate to ovate-lanceolate, sometimes above a foot long, straight or falcate, with numerous fine, closely parallel, almost transverse veins. Flowers large, in umbels forming a terminal panicle, peduncles terete, ½ to 2 inches long, pedicels sometimes very short, sometimes 1 to 2 inches long. Calyx-tube turbinate, ½ to ¾ inch long, hard, with about 8 longitudinal ribs. Operculum not seen. Stamens above ½ inch long; filaments rigid, inflected in the bud; anthers small, ovate, with distinct parallel cells. Fruits ovoid or slightly urceolate, very thick and hard, 1 to 2 inches long, with about 8 prominent ribs, the rim thick, the capsule sunk. Seeds winged.

It is also figured in “Eucalyptographia.”

For notes on the bark, see p. 107.

Colour of filaments.—Leichhardt has a note (Paris Herbarium) on a Port Essington specimen, “Scarlet blossoms,” but he may have written the wrong colour in his imperfect English.

Mr. B. Gulliver, who saw the tree during Captain Cadell's voyage to Arnhem's Land, states the flowers (filaments) to be “scarlet” (“Eucalyptographia.”) Mueller is, however, in some doubt, for he goes on to say, “If really they persist in the bright colour of E. miniata and E. phœnicea,” &c. (I have shown under E. ficifolia that Mueller confused scarlet and crimson.)

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W. V. Fitzgerald says (MSS.): “Filaments white or occasionally tinged with pink, and not scarlet (vide “Eucalyptographia”).”

G. F. Hill's specimens confirm Fitzgerald's remarks. His filaments are cream-coloured and crimson. C. E. F. Allen later recorded “crimson.” It is obvious that we have here a confusion between scarlet and crimson, as is not infrequently the case. The colour, other than cream, is pink to crimson.


North Western Australia and Northern Territory.—Mueller (original description) found it in “Dry river beds and rocky streams at the sources of the Wentworth, Wickham, and Limmen Bight Rivers.”

Bentham adds, Melville Island, Fraser. (Fraser was never there, although specimens may have passed through his hands.) Port Essington, Gilbert.

Later on Mueller recorded it from a number of localities in North Western Australia, so that we have it for the most northerly portion of Australia, as far east as the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Western Australia.

The following record was made by Joseph Bradshaw's Expedition to the Regent's River, William Tucker Allen being botanical collector. “Welcome Creek, Roe's and Drysdale Rivers, chiefly on the banks of tributaries.” Mueller in Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., xvi, 469 (1891).

Then W. V. Fitzgerald noted, from his own collection in the Kimberley district, “Isdell and Charnley Rivers; Woollybutt and Synnott Creeks,” adding that it is always found in wet, boggy spots. On another occasion he says “chiefly growing along the banks of water-courses, but occasionally in rocky localities.” His Woollybutt Creek specimen, near Phillips' Range, is No. 950.

Northern Territory.

Liverpool River (Gulliver in Herb. Melb.). Has a large lanceolate leaf.

“Bark like E. terminalis to topmost branches (i.e., like a Bloodwood, J.H.M.). Trunk 15 inches diameter. Spreading, somewhat stunted growth, 28 feet high; only one tree seen.” Side of small ravine, Bathurst Island (G. F. Hill, No. 467).

Bud collected by Leichhardt on his Overland Journey to Port Essington (Herb. Paris).

“Large tree, crimson flowers.” Pine Creek (C. E. F. Allen, No. 116).

Powell's Creek (Prof. W. Baldwin Spencer).

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“8 Mile Spring on to Tanumbirini (near creeks and springs). Crimson filaments. Stem like Bloodwood. (Appears to be same species as white-flowering form No. 810.)” (G. F. Hill, No. 809.)”

“No. 810. 8 Mile Creek on to Tanumbirini (tree similar to 809). Cream flowers. (G. F. Hill.)

Both were collected on the same day, 26th March, 1912, and are identical, except in regard to the colour of the filaments. E. ptychocarpa is therefore to be added to the list of species with filaments of two colours.


1. With E. miniata A. Cunn.

In the original description, Mueller says that the trunk of E. ptychocarpa, so far as the bark is concerned, holds an intermediate place between the Stringy-barks and the Boxes. He amplifies this in the following passage:—

“With a greyish, wrinkled, everywhere persistent, somewhat fibrous bark, thus fluctuating between the Stringybark and so-called Box trees, though in cortical characters perhaps nearest to E. hemiphloia and E. albens, but …….” (“Eucalyptographia.”) In his classification of barks he puts it with the Pachyphloiæ.

Mr. W. V. Fitzgerald (MSS.) says it is “a tree up to 40 feet, trunk 15 feet, diameter 2 feet, bark persistent on stem and branches, dark-coloured, rough, soft and flaky, timber red, soft and very porous.” On the evidence it is not proper to put E. ptychocarpa with the Pachyphloiæ (Stringybarks).

It is difficult, in exceptional cases, to describe clearly the bark of a Eucalypt. That of E. miniata I have tried to describe at p. 37, Part XXII. While I do not say that it is the same as that of E. ptychocarpa (a bark I have not seen, except in a very young tree), the fact that E. miniata is sometimes called (with others) “Woollybutt” and “Stringybark” shows that, at least as regards the barks of the trunks of mature trees, the two species have some resemblance to each other.

A character hitherto unrecorded is that some of the young or intermediate leaves are slightly peltate. This is consistent with the suggested Corymbosæ affinity.

Bentham says: “The fruit (of E. ptychocarpa) somewhat resembles that of E. miniata, but the venation of the leaves and the inflorescence are quite different.” (B. Fl. iii, 255.)

Mueller, later, observes: “From E. miniata it is far more distant (than E. Abergiana) in its not scaly-friable bark, which does not separate from the main branches, in the leaves being not of a pale and dull-green on both sides, besides of thicker consistence, much larger and proportionately also broader, without any translucent oil-dots, in the absence of stomata on the upper page of the leaves; further, in the umbels not solitary nor lateral nor axillary, in larger flowers and conspicuous development of flower-stalklets, in fruits often smaller (although similarly shaped and ridged), and in the seeds provided with a long appendage (those of E. miniata being quite exappendiculate). (“Eucalyptographia,” under E. ptychocarpa.)

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E. ptychocarpa is a species with ribbed fruits, the fruits being large individually. Such a species is also E. miniata A. Cunn.; see Plate 96, Part XXII. Those of E. miniata are sessile, often more elongate and narrow, sometimes hardly constricted at the orifice, but in other cases more constricted than in E. ptychocarpa, and with the ribs thicker. They differ also in the much smaller leaves of E. miniata and in the venation of them, but I know of no closer affinity for E. ptychocarpa.

2. With E. Abergiana F.v.M.

“Its affinity is with E. Abergiana and E. miniata; from the former it can be distinguished by its longer leaves, with a still paler lower page, by its also still larger flowers, which are provided with usually long stalklets (although Bentham describes the latter as occasionally also very short), and most particularly by the fruit longitudinally traversed by about eight narrow ridges.” (“Eucalyptographia,” under E. ptychocarpa.)

For E. Abergiana, see Plate 170, Part XLI, when it will be seen that the two species are not very closely related.

3. With E. Forrestiana Diels.

This is a ribbed, large-fruited species, but the fruits are only four-ribbed, while there are other differences (see Plate 95, Part XXII) which show that it is more removed from E. ptychocarpa than is E. miniata.

4. With E. Planchoniana F.v.M.

Although E. Planchoniana has been referred to in Part IX, I have not figured it, since Mueller had figured it in “Eucalyptographia,” and I had nothing of importance to add. I have, however, figured it in Plate 90, Part XXIV of my “Forest Flora of New South Wales,” to which I beg to refer my readers. It will be see that E. Planchoniana is a large-fruited species, with some ribbing of the buds and fruits, more marked in my plate than in Mueller's. E. Planchoniana is an Eastern Australian tree, whose affinities are not close to those of E. ptychocarpa.