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Part IX

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No. 31: Gmelina Leichardtii,


The White Beech

(Natural Order VERBENACÆ)

Botanical description

— Genus, Gmelina, Linn.

Calyx. — Four or 5-toothed or sinuate-lobed.

Corolla-tube. — Much dilated upwards, or almost campanulate; limb oblique, with 4 or 5 spreading lobes, the two upper ones sometimes united in an upper lip.

Stamens. — Four, in pairs, shorter than the corolla.

Ovary. — Four-celled, with 1 ovule in each cell laterally attached at or above the middle; style filiform, unequally 2-lobed at the top.

Fruit. — A succulent drupe, the putamen hard or bony, 4-celled or rarely 2-celled.

Seeds. — Solitary in each cell, without albumen.

Trees or tall shrubs.

Leaves. — Opposite, undivided.

Flowers. — Often rather large, pale purplish pink or blue, or in species not Australian yellow, in cymes arranged in irregular terminal panicles, sometimes almost reduced to simple racemes.

Bracts small.

Botanical description

— Species, G. Leichhardtii, F.v.M., in B.Fl. v, 66.

A fine timber tree, attaining a great height, the young branches and inflorescence tomentose.

Leaves. — Ovate, scarcely acuminate but rather acute, rounded or cuncate at the base, 3 to 6 inches long somewhat coriaceous, quite glabrous, and almost rugose on the upper side, much reticulate, with raised veins and densely and softly tomentose underneath, the petiole often above 1 inch long.

Flowers. — " White, with purple markings," numerous in opposite pedunculate cymes forming loose ovoid or shortly pyramidal terminal panicles.

Calyx. — Broadly turbinate-campanulate, truncate, tomentose, and not 2 lines long at the time of flowering, enlarged and spreading under the fruit.

Corolla. — Villous outside, the tube very broad and dilated upwards, twice as long as the Calyx, the lobes ovate, above 2 lines long, the two upper ones rather larger and shortly united in an upper lip.

Stamens. — Incurved, the longer pair about as long as the upper lip; anther-cells diverging.

Fruits. — In the specimens seen all deformed by insects, the calyx opening out horizontally to a diameter of 6 to 8 lines and obscurely sinuate-toothed. (B.Fl. v, 66) See p. 186.

Botanical Name

— Gmelina, in honour of George Gmelin, a German naturalist and traveller (Georg Friedrich), author of a botanical work published at Tilbingen in 1699. Leichhardtii is also in honour of a German naturalist and traveller, an Australian explorer whose name is ever before the people of New South Wales and Queensland.

  ― 186 ―

Vernacular Names

— This tree is favoured by being universally known as Beech, or White Beech, and by no other names; but it should be borne in mind that hardly any term is more loosely known in New South Wales than that of Beech. We have a true Beech (the Negro-head, Fagus Moorei), and in addition She Beech, Blue Beech, Brown Beech, Bully Beech, and many other beeches, most of which only resemble each other in all being totally dissimilar to the beech of Europe.

Sometimes, in the Illawarra, it goes by the name of "Long Jack," owing to its size.

Aboriginal Names

— "Coo-in-new " of the Illawarra, according to the late Sir William Macarthur ; " Binburra " of those of northern New South Wales. Mr. W. Bacuerlen informed me that an old timber-getter, of Lismore, told him that the aboriginal name was " Binna Burra." There is a station on the Lismore-Tweed railway line called Binna Burra, and his informant told him that this used to be the chief locality where they formerly obtained the White Beech, he himself having taken many and many a thousand feet of it from the locality. " Cullonen " was in use by some tribes in Queensland.


— Vitex Leichhardtii, F.v.M., Fragm. iii, 58, Tectona grandis, Hill, in Cat. Queensland Woods, London Exhibition, 1862, p. 20, where he speaks of it as follows:—

This very useful tree has a lofty cylindrical stem; the bark ash-coloured; the leaves are obovate, downy underneath, from 4 to 6 inches long and from 2 to 3 inches broad. The flowers are in panicles, large, purple; the seeds in four-celled drupes. The wood has, by experience, been found to be useful; it is easily worked, and at the same time it is both strong and durable. It does not expand by damp and contract by dry weather. The river steamers of Queensland use it principally for the floats of their wheels. It is found in small quantities, in the scrubs bordering the rivers.


— They are very handsome, white with purple markings, as stated by Bentham, and sometimes almost entirely purple.


— Fruit described by Maiden and Betchenote in the following words:—

This is the first time that we have noticed ripe fruits on the tree in the Gardens, and as the fruits are not described in the "Flora Australiensis" we give a short description of them: — Fruits of a dull mauve, almost blue colour, somewhat depressed globular, nearly 1 inch in diameter; always provided with the persistent, flattened out, and enlarged calyx.


— The leaves are rather large, and show handsome venation, particularly on the underside. Like many other verbenaceous plants, they readily fall off in drying.


— A very useful timber, strong, durable, and easily worked. It does not expand in damp or contract in dry weather if moderately seasoned, hence

  ― 187 ―
it is much prized for the decks of vessels and the flooring of verandahs. Speaking of this timber, Mr. Baeuerlen wrote to me:—

I have just seen a staircase, and eleven months ago the tree from which the wood was taken was growing in the forest. It was cut at once, green as it was, and up to the present no sign of shrinking or cracking can be seen.

It warps neither in plank nor in log. It is excellent for picture-frames, and is a wood frequently chosen where it would not be safe to trust a wood of which there might be doubts as to whether it would shrink or warp. It is used for the floats of mill-wheels, the jambs of windows, and for innumerable other purposes. It would be almost impossible to misplace it for ordinary indoor carpentry work, If I were asked to name the three most valuable timbers of New South Wales I would say, Grey Ironbark, Cedar, and Beech.

One drawback to this valuable timber is that where it is used for flooring which is exposed to the weather, around every nail there becomes a hole in the course of a few years. This is usually explained by ascribing to Beech some property which eats or rusts away the nails. For the same reason, wine-casks of Beech can never be hooped with black iron. So far as I am aware, no chemist has ever examined Beech to see if it contains a trace of free acid or some salt which would explain the corrosion above referred to.

Beech is largely used for the manufacture of vats for wine, and I believe it is an admirable wood for the purpose. It is too short in the grain to split, so that split staves cannot be made of it. As regards its use by coach-builders, Mr. S. Lownds, Teacher in Coachbuilding at the Technical College, informed me -

This is a very useful timber for panels and thin boards. It is pretty durable, but rather soft, but its softness is, in some instances, an advantage. Where extreme heat or moisture has to be considered, as in bakers' carts, Beech will be found to withstand such influences better than most timbers. It paints and polishes well, is very easily worked, and does not readily split.

It is pale-coloured, white with a tinge of brown. As a very general rule, it is plain, but occasionally it shows a neat grain, which is ornamental. It is rather close-grained and excellent to work. If it be glued with Russian glue, mixed with sour milk, it will hold like solid wood when made into furniture. It is very extensively used for ships' blocks.

Up till a few years ago it was remarkable that no engineering tests had been made of such an universally-appreciated timber. Professor Warren has rectified the omission in his work on Australian timbers, published for the Chicago Exhibition. The timber referred to as White Beech is the one under discussion, the other beech (Negro-head) is a Fagus. Professor Warren gives the weight of some beech he tested as 19.1 lb. per cubic foot. I examined some which was bone-dry, having been seasoned over a quarter of a century; its weight was 36 lb. per cubic foot. On the average (as found in the market), its weight is between 40 and 50 lb. per cubic foot.

  ― 188 ―


— From 80 to 120 feet high, and a diameter of 2 to 4 feet. The Sydney Morning Herald, of 16th August, 1898, says:—

An Enormous Beech Tree. — Mr. Nicholl's steamer, "Excelsior," which yesterday arrived in port, brought, as part cargo, an enormous beech tree from the Byron Bay district. The tree was cut into logs 9 feet in length, and averaged about 17 feet in girth. Only the main barrel of the giant was brought to Sydney, and this comprises 10,000 feet of timber, which filled one-half of the vessel's hold.


— The north bank of the Shoalhaven is its southernmost limit in New South Wales; thence it extends along the coast, in brushes, to Southern Queensland. It is found in the Shoalhaven district and the Illawarra, but is not plentiful. It used to be found in Jasper's Brush, but not on the Cambewarra Mountain. Proceeding north, a few trees may be found in the brushes about Otford, Lilydale, &c., but I have not seen any. It skips the Sydney district and reappears in the Brisbane Water district, being cut at the present time, though to a small extent (as good trees are in almost inaccessible localities), about Wyong Creek, Cooranbong, &c. Then it is found here and there along the coast, but nowhere very plentifully There is a good deal back from the Bellinger and Coff's Harbour. It occurs all through the Big Scrub, on the Richmond and Brunswick, and also in isolated patches of scrub on the Tweed. It is not a plentiful tree; it nowhere appears to be gregarious, but in isolated trees, far apart.

Following, area few specific notes:—

Never plentiful in my district; only a few trees left in very rugged places — (Forester Martin, (Gosford.) One or two saplings only in my district. — (Forester A. Rudder, Bowral.)

It is found on Tallowak Mountain (back of Failford), also at John's River, and at Pappinbarra Creek, 40 miles back from Port Macquarie. This timber is getting so scarce that notes of localities from which it is obtained at the present time are interesting. Lattice-laths of beech were being cut at Laurieton. — (J.H.M.)

Sparsely distributed throughout the brush portion of my district. Large quantities have been removed from this district years ago, particularly from the Allgomera Forests and the Upper Nambucca; but not much remains in easily accessible districts. Probably from 20,000 to 40,000 feet might be readily obtained at an advanced price. -(Forester MacDonald, Kempsey.) Very little in my immediate locality. — (G. M. McKeown, Wollongbar.) A few trees are to be found on Reserves 4,353 and 10,723, county Rous; 14,150, county Buller, 1,120, counties Rous and Buller; on Crown lands, Haystack and Watershed between Koreela and Beaury Creeks, county Buller-(Forester Crowley, Casino.)


— From the fruits (beech-nuts). Unfortunately, however, they are usually attacked by an insect as they approach maturity, and this, combined with the natural hardness of the seed, renders propagation of the Beech usually a difficult matter. This is to be regretted, as one sees so few seedlings and saplings of the White Beech coming forward in the brushes. The tree, therefore, is within measurable distance of extermination in readily accessible localities. It would be nothing less than a national calamity if this valuable tree were to practically die out. In most cases our trees propagate themselves readily, and what is chiefly

  ― 189 ―
required is to conserve the young growth, not to make artificial plantings; but in the case of the White Beech, I think an exception should be made, and artificial propagation resorted to in suitable localities. Indian Teak seeds are very similar to White Beech seeds, and indeed the two trees are closely allied, botanically. Both seeds take a long time to germinate under ordinary circumstances. The method of preparing Teak seeds for germination in India is to bury heaps of them in a shallow earthen pit which is covered over with soil and kept moist. When the seeds begin to germinate they are opened out and carefully planted.


— We have two other Gmelinas in Australia, but they are Queensland trees and do not extend to New South Wales. Their timber resembles that of our beech a good deal. There are five or six other species, confined to India, the Malay Archipelago, and the regions between.

Of the three Indian species of Gmelina, of which G. arborea is the most important, Gamble, in his Manual of Indian Timbers, says:—

The wood is easily worked and readily takes paint or varnish; it is very durable under water. It is highly esteemed for planking, furniture, door-panels, carriages, well-work, boats, toys, packing-cases, and all ornamental work. It would probably be a valuable wood for tea-boxes. It is the chief furniture wood of Chittagong, and is in some demand in Calcutta.

He quotes Captain Baker as stating that it is —

Well calculated for light planking, panelling, blinds, and venetians, and of much estimation for pictureframes, organ-pipes, sounding-boards, and such other work where shrinkage has to be avoided.

It is noticeable that this property of comparative absence of shrinkage is a characteristic of both the Indian and the New South Wales Beech.


Plate 33: The Beech or White Beech (Gmelina Leichhardtii, F.v.M.) Lithograph by M. Flockton

  • A. Corolla, opened out, showing didynamous stamens.
  • B. Exterior of corolla.
  • C. Gynæceum, showing unequally 2-lobed stigma.
  • D. Stamen, with diverging anther-cells.
  • E. Stamen, the anther discharging pollen.
  • F. Fruits.
  • G. Putamen (stone of the seed), the mesocarp (succulent part) removed.

Footnotes Issue No. 31

Supplementary Material Added at the End of Volume 2

No. 31. Part IX.

Gmelina Leichhardtii, F.v.M.


(Natural Order VERBENACEÆ.)

Timber. — See vol. i, p. 186.

A large tree, with fairly smooth grey bark, rough dark-green leaves; trunk of ten crooked, irregularly shaped, and sometimes having buttresses at the base. Wood varies in colour, sometimes light-grey, palepink, and dark-brown; the first-mentioned being perhaps the most common. It is heavier than soft woods generally, close-grained, soft, and very easily worked. Shrinks very little, and is, resistant to white ants. Used for verandah flooring, decking of vessels, joinery, cabinet-work, carving, and turnery. It stands exposure to the weather better than any of our soft timbers, excepting cypress pine (Callitris robusta). — (Catal. Queensland Forestry Museum, 1904.)

Habitat. — See vol. i, p. 188.

Mr. District Forester T. H. Wilshire, in reporting it from Kangaroo Creek, 30 miles from Grafton, says that a fair amount in log is shipped to Sydney. As regards Queensland, the following is quoted from the official catalogue just referred to: —

This timber, being much prized, was extensively used in former years; the quantity remaining now being limited. Occasional trees are, however, met with in sonic of our coastal scrubs, north and south, but generally in such places as are difficult of access.

Supplementary Material Added To Volume 4

No. 31. Part IX. See also vol. ii, p. 199.

Gmelina Leichhardtii, F.v.M. THE WHITE BEECH. (Family VERBENACEÆ.)


(a) Gmelina Leichhardtii: Tree in the Botanic Gardens, Sydney. — (Government Printer, photo.)

(b) "White Beech." — (From the Report of the Forestry Branch, Department of Lands, N.S.W., 1906–07.)

Supplementary Material Added With Volume 6

No. 31. Part IX. See also vols. ii, p, 199; iv, p. 164.

Gmelina Leichhardtii F.v.M.




Typical scrub on Richmond Range, showing stump of large Beech Tree (Gmelina Leichhardtii). Photo forwarded by C.A. Ballard, Forest Guard, Mallanganee, N.S.W

  ― 190 ―

No. 32: Vertilago viminalis,


The Supple Jack

(Natural Order RHAMNACEÆ.)

Botanical description

— Genus, Ventilago, Gaertn.

Calyx. — Five-lobed, spreading.

Petals. — Hood-shaped, or none.

Stamens. — Five, scarcely exceeding the petals when present.

Disc. — Flat or concave, filling the short calyx-tube.

Ovary. — More or less immersed in the disc; 2-celled; style short, with 2 short, erect stigmatic lobes.

Nut. — Globular at the base, produced into an oblong or linear coriaceous wing; 1-celled and l-seeded, indehiscent.

Seed. — Globular; testa membranous; albumen none; cotyledons thick and fleshy.

Climbing shrubs or trees.

Leaves. — Alternate, penninerved.

Flowers. — Small, clustered along the branches of axillary or terminal panicles.

The genus is dispersed over the tropical regions of the Old World. The Australian species is endemic, differing from the others in habit and foliage, as well as in the absence of petals.

Botanical description

— Species, V. viminalis, Hook., in Mitch. Trop. Austr. 369.

A small glabrous tree.

Leaves. — Narrow, lanceolate, 2 to 4, or even 5 inches long, entire, narrowed into a petiole, coriaceous, the pinnate veins very oblique, and sometimes almost parallel with the midrib, without the elegant transverse venation of the rest of the genus.

Panicles. — Not much branched, or almost reduced to simple racemes, shorter than the leaves, solitary or clustered in the axils.

Calyx. — About 1 line long.

Petals. — None.

Disc. — Entirely adnate to the short, broad calyx-tube.

Ovary. — Slightly immersed in the disk.

Fruit. — Glabrous, about 1 inch long, including the wing, the turbinate adnate base of the calyx not attaining above a quarter of the length of the globular nut. (B.Fl. i, 411.)

  ― 191 ―

The original description is as follows:—

V. viminalis (Hook., MS.); foliis anguste elongato-lanceolatis integerrimis nervis costa parallelis, paniculis axillaribus terminalibusque. The other hitherto known species of the genus have broad leaves, more or less denticulate, with patent nerves. The flowers and fruit entirely accord with those of the genus. W.J.H. "Tree 20 ft. high, growing on high sandy ridges."

Botanical name

— Ventilago; Latin ventilo, I blow (or winnow); ago, I drive gently, in allusion to the winged seeds; viminalis, Latin viminalia — all trees and shrubs yielding twigs fit to bind or make wicker-work, e.g., willows.

Vernacular Name

— "Supple Jack," because of the flexibility of its stems and branches (referred to in the specific name viminalis).

I made the following notes while in the Bogan country:—

The Supple Jack takes its name from the circumstance that when young it often forms a thin supple stem, sometimes like a cane, and often this thin stem seeks the protection of an older tree, usually of its own kind, in its young state, often entwining more or less spirally.

This dependent stage is, however, not universal, the tree being often independent from the start.

The lateral branches have a marked tendency to grow inwards towards the larger branch or trunk from which they sprang. One clump may consist of a dozen stems intertwining, more or less, and they probably all have sprung from the same stock, suckering (they are so often cut down for stock) and their supple branches (sub.stems) intertwine with the original.

Supple Jack sometimes sends out lateral branches like vine tendrils which cling to the larger branches for support.

It seems to me that there is only one root for every clump of Supple Jacks, i.e., it suckers freely. This is borne out by the fact that if you plough round a Supple Jack, suckers spring up wherever the root is injured.

Aboriginal Names

— “Cunnyannah,” of the aborigines of north-western New South Wales; "Thandorah," of those of the Cloncurry River, North Queensland. (E. Palmer.)


— Speaking of the dry West, Mr. W. S. Campbellnote says-:

The most valuable of our fodder trees seems to be beyond all question, that known as "Supple Jack" in the western districts, or "Cunnyannah" in the north-west. Illustration No. 6 shows a typical specimen of a tree in its natural condition, and No. 7 shows one which has been lopped for fodder purposes for no less than five years in succession. This frequent lopping seems to have little or no efect on the "Supple Jack," which has wonderful recuperative qualities and adaptability for dry districts.

  ― 192 ―

Mr. R. W. Peacock's opinion of it as a fodder is thus expressed:—

And perhaps I may be deemed bold when I relegate such a widely-acknowledged fodder-plant as the Kurrajong to second place, but such I am forced to do, if any reliance can be placed upon the partiality of stock for them; for, from my own observations, backed by the experiences of others, to the " Supple Jack " (ventilago viminalis) must be ascribed the place of honour.

I have been very much surprised that this valuable tree has not received the honorable mention due to it in this district. Upon plans of the lands on which the edible shrubs are given, no mention is made of it. Its general appearance, with its sparse foliage, is somewhat ragged, and would not catch the eye as would the Kurrajong and some others, it having in its natural state no pretensions to good looks; but after it has been properly lopped, a dense mass of suckers spring out; and I am of opinion that the amount of fodder is as great, or if not greater, than upon a similarly treated Kurrajong.note

Lopping of fodder trees should always be carefully performed. A sharp tomahawk, axe, or saw should be used, and the cut edge should be as clean and free from tears as possible.

Mr. F. B. Guthrienote has subjected the plant to analysis, with respect to its feeding value, with the following result:

Water...  33.16 
Ash ...  6.61 
Fibre ..   14.96 
Ether Extract (Oil, &c.)..  1.21 
Albuminoids ...   11.03 
Carbo-hydrates ..  33.03 
Nutrient Value ...  46 3/4 
Albuminoid ratio ...  1:3 1/4 
Tannin (Oak Bark) ..  2.4 

The leaves of V. maderaspatana are said to be a favourite food of the elephant in Ceylon. (Trimen.)


— This species differs from that of others in the absence of petals.


— The bark of the root of V. maderaspatana yields a valuable orange-red dye. It is also used for tanning, and also in native medicine in India. The bark of the stem is also employed for fibre purposes. It has not been ascertained whether the bark of the root or stem of our Supple Jack contains any useful substance.


— Wood soft and yellow; pithy. The natives use two sticks of the same wood from this tree for making fire with. It is generally used, and, being common, is the most generally used of woods for the purpose. (E. Palmer.)

The tree is so small that its value does not lie in its timber.

V. maderaspatana, Gaertn., is described as

A conspicuous forest climber of India and Ceylon. Wood yellow, porous, soft. Pores large oval, often transversely subdivided. Medullary rays moderately broad, undulating, bent at the pores. [Gamble: Manual of Indian Timbers.]

It will be seen that the two species resemble each other a good deal in regard to their wood.

  ― 193 ―


— Tree 20 to 30 feet high, forming a bushy tree. Its stem is under 1 foot thick.


— The species is confined to the drier parts of South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland. In South Australia it occurs north of the central district, chiefly comprising the basin of the Upper Finke River and its tributaries. In our own State it occurs in the dry west and north-west districts. Its southern limit is unknown to me. In Queensland it grows "on high sandy ridges" (Sir Thomas Mitchell), and it is found in many interior localities, extending northward as far as the Gulf of Carpentaria.


— From seed, which is abundantly produced.


Plate 34: Supple Jack (Ventilago viminalis, Hook.) Lithograph by M. Flockton

  • A. Flower bud.
  • B. Flower.
    • (a) Sepal.
    • (b) Stamen.
    • (c) Disc.
    • (d) Style with two stigmatic lobes.
  • C.
    • (a) Calyx. (N.B.--Drawn rather too narrow at a.)
    • (b) Ovarium in an early stage. As it ripens the two stigmatic branches or lobes fall away, while the top of ovarium flattens out to form the wing.
  • D. Flower (four sepals or calyx-lobes removed).
    • (a) Sepal.
    • (b) Disc.
    • (c) Stamen.
    • (d) Style,
  • E. Front and back view of anther.
  • F. Fruiting twig.
  • G. Winged fruit.
  • H. Nut.

Footnotes Issue No. 32

Supplementary Material Added at the End of Volume 2

No. 32. Part IX.

Ventilago viminalis, Hook.


(Natural Order RHAMNACEÆ.)

Timber. — See vol. i, p. 192. Timber of this species cut by me at Coolabah was very hard.

Habitat. — See vol. i, p. 193.

I have never found this species so far south as the Lachlan. It seems to extend from Cobar northwards, but may be in the country south-west of Cobar, towards the Darling. — (R. H. Cambage.)

North of this it is represented in the National Herbarium by such localities as Brewarrina (J. L. Boorman); Bourke (E. Betebe); Coolabah (J.H.M.); Plains near Baradine (W. Forsyth).


Ventilago viminalis, Supple Jack: The photograph was taken near the Darling River, by Kerry & Co., Sydney

Supplementary Material Added to Volume 3

No. 32. Part IX. Ventilago viminalis, Hook. THE SUPPLE JACK. (Family RHAMNACEAE.)

Vernacular Name, etc.- See vol. i, p. 191. "Supple Jack"; called also " Vine-tree"; other name variously spelt " Cunnianna" or "Cunnyunny," one of our most valuable fodder trees. All stock are very fond of it. It stands plenty of lopping. When young the stems twist round each other like a vine; hence the name, " Vine-tree." it appears to start as a vine at the base of some other shrub, which it eventually displaces. It then grows into an upright tree 20 or 30 feet high. — (A. W. Mullen, L.S., of Bourke, through the Chairman of the Western Lands Board.)

"Supple Jack or Australian Willow." Good firewood, bullock-yokes, and shafts, but hard to get straight; also good fodder for stock. Resists white ants.- (R. J. Dalton, Wanaaring.)


Photographs of Supple Jack (Ventilago viminalis) from Fort Bourke, near Bourke.- (C. J. McMaster.)

Mr. C. J. McMaster furnishes the following information: —

Plate (1) indicates the habit of growth in an intermediate stage. It will be seen that the plant made use of the tree, immediately behind it, to climb upon, and, having grown sufficiently stable to no longer require its assistance, it took possession of the situation, and probably destroyed its host. The two are so close together that they look like one on the plate, but a careful examination will reveal the difference. Taken near Brewarrina. Plate (2) shows a fine specimen of Supple Jack. Indications of its early habit of growth are distinguishable in the younger stems-on the left-which have not yet outgrown the spiral climbing peculiarity.

Supplementary Material Added To Volume 4

No 32. Part IX. See also vols. ii, P. 200; iii, p. 164.

Ventilago viminalis, Hook. THE SUPPLE JACK. (Family RHAMNACEÆ.)


(a) "Supple Jack," Coolabah. — (R. W. Peacock, photo.)

(b) "Supple Jack," Mungindi District. — (Kerry, photo.)

  ― 194 ―

No. 33: Eucalyptus melliodora,

A. Cunn

The Yellow Box

(Natural Order MYRTAGEÆ.)

Botanical Description

— Genus, Eucalyptus, L'Heritier (see Part II, page 33).

Botanical description

— Species, Eucalyptus melliodora, A. Cunn.

Following is the original description:

A. Cunn Herb. No. 57. — Schauer Mss. — Arborea glaucescens: ramulis pendulis teretib.; foll. coriaceis anguste lanceolatis subfalcatis in petioluin attenuatis acuminatis, rnargine incrassatis impunctatis concolorib. opacis; pedunculis axillarib; 3–5 floris petiolo duplo breviorib., pedicellisq. compressis, his cupula paullo longiorib:operculo coriacco subhemisphærico vix apiculato cupula obconica triente breviori. Foliorum lamina 2 1/2–3 pollices longa, 6 lin. circiter lata, pedunculus 3 lin. metiens, operculum 1 lineam altum cupulæ concolor flavescenti-virens. Flores mel redolentes — In Novæ Cambriæ australis plalgis interioribus occidentem versus frequens. (Schauer in Walper's Report. ii, 924)

This description was published in 1843, and Allan Cunningham died in 1839.

Following is the description by Bentham, taken from his Flora Australiensis:—

A moderate-sized tree of irregular growth, with a smooth bark of a pale lead colour (A. Cunningham), scaling off in flakes in the upper part of the tree (C. Moore), furrowed and persistent (F. Mueller).

Leaves. — Lanceolate, usually narrow, acuminate and often falcate, mostly 3 to 1 inches long, rather thick, with very fine and rather numerous but oblique veins, the intramarginal one at a distance from the edge.

Peduncles. — Axillary or lateral, somewhat angular but not thick, usually short, each with an umbel of 4 to 8 rather small flowers on pedicels of one to two lines.

Calyx-tube. — Campanulate, about 2 lines long and diameter.

Operculum. — Hemispherical or shortly conical, with a small point, -varying from a little shorter to rather longer than the calyx-tube.

Stamens. — About 2 lines long, the outer ones rather longer and anantherous, anthers of the others small, with contiguous cells opening in terminal pores, sometimes at length confluent.

Ovary. — Short, flat-topped ; stigma dilated.

Capsule. — Sub-globose, truncate, not contracted at the orifice, or rarely ovoid and somewhat contracted; the rim rather broad, flat or nearly so, the capsule more or less depressed, but the valves somewhat prominent when open. (B.Fl. iii, 210.)

  ― 195 ―

Botanical Name

— Eucalyptus, already explained, see page 34, Part II ; melliodora — mel, mellis, honey, odora, of a sweet or pleasant smell.

Vernacular Names

— The commonest "Yellow Box" of New South Wales and Victoria. "Yellow Jacket" of the interior, the inner bark being of a yellowish colour. In the Merriwa and Cassilis district it is as often called Yellow Gum as Yellow Jacket (see "Bark"). It is sometimes called "Honey-scented Gum," owing to the perfume of its flowers.

Aboriginal Names

— By the aborigines of Gippsland it is known as "Dargan," according to Mr. A. W. Howitt. I do not know any New South Wales aboriginal name for a tree which is sure to have had a name.


— The following particulars in regard to the oil from this species are taken from Messrs. Baker and Smith's Research on the Eucalypts:—

Specific gravity at 15°C.  Specific rotation.  Saponification number.  Solubility in Alcohol.  Constituents found. 
0.9042 to 0.9321  +5.36° to +6.19°  7.21 to 21.96  1 1/2 vols. 70% to 6 vols. 70%.  Eucalyptol, pinene, phellandrene. 

The same authorsnote give the specific gravity of the crude oil as 0.905 and of the rectified oil, 0.902, the latter containing 58 per cent. of cineol (eucalyptol). They further state that the cineol content of the oil increases towards the winter, but they are of opinion that the higher percentage of cineol has no influence on the specific gravity.

Mr. E. J. Parry, B.Sc.,note gives somewhat different figures, viz.:—Specific gravity, 0.917; specific (optical) rotation, 0°37' and 52 per cent. of eucalyptol. Mr. Parry challenges the statement that the percentage of eucalyptol is practically independent of the specific gravity.

Messrs. Baker and Smith's rejoinder follows.note Mr. Parry at the same place note maintains the correctness of his observations, and there the matter rests for the present.


— This tree, like all of the Boxes, is an esteemed honey-yielder.

I send, by post, a sample of the great honey-producer, locally known as Yellow Box, and consisting of flowering blossoms and seeds, and wish to have same identified with a view to have this timber preserved on Forest Reserve No. 27,767 of 2,500 acres, as well as on new Goldfield Reserve of about 5,000 acres, as I am aware that this species of tree will produce more value in honey than the grass under them in wool. In fact, there are about 70 acres of this timber on my land, and some seasons I get more value in honey than if I had it cropped with good wheat at a fair price. — (James Brogan, of Attunga.)

  ― 196 ―


— The fruits are small and nearly hemispherical, and have a characteristic narrow band or rim, which usually encircles the slightly constricted orifice, and which is well seen on a side view of the fruit. The rim is similar in appearance to that observed in Eucalyptus sideroxylon under similar circumstances. The fruit of the former species is, of course, much smaller.


— This tree has a characteristic inner bark, which is often as yellow as the proverbial guinea.

It is sometimes the case that it is difficult to discriminate this species from Eucalyptus Bosistoana, another "Yellow Box," but a knife or axe will settle the question at once, the inner bark of Eucalyptus Bosistoana being white.

In most parts of the country it has a sub-fibrous or "box" bark on the trunk or for a considerable distance up the butt, and smooth and even ribbony above it. Following are some notes made on the spot: Bark flaky, ribbony, more like a cross between E. tereticornis and a Box than a true Box (Merriwa Creek). Many trees in the Merriwa and Cassilis district have, more than is usual, the appearance of a Gum than a box.

In the Gulgong district, often with a considerable amount of clean stem.


— This is sometimes a remarkably gnarled, twisted tree.

The timber is pale-coloured, not white, but pale yellow, seasoning to a pale brown. It is remarkably interlocked, tough, hard, heavy and durable. In the south I have rarely heard the timber spoken of other shall in terms of unqualified praise. In the north I have heard a few disparaging remarks, and two well-known experts say :

Not liked as posts in Liverpool Plains and Mudgee district. People will not accept it for posts for wire fences or for ally other purposes if they can help it. (Jesse Gregson alnd J. D. Cox.)

Another northern opinion says:—

As a useful timber it nearly lasts in the ground twice as long, as Box, and should be very valuable for mining purposes, as nearly every tree about would make lengths that would bc long enough for this purpose. I wish to have it saved from the ring-barker. (James Brogan, Attunga.)

It is said to be durable both in water and under the ground. The opinion of some Candelo (South Coast) people differs, however, on this point. A correspondent says: "It is here considered the best timber all round, but does not, as far as I can learn, last long in the ground." — There are many instances of such contradictory statements in regard to our native timbers, showing how much room there is for independent inquiry.

In many parts of the country it is much esteemed for posts, being looked upon as almost imperishable in the ground. It is excellent for culverts. It is often pipy, particularly in the dry west, but it is without doubt one of the most valuable trees the State produces.

  ― 197 ―

It is often found with White or Grey Box (hemiphloia), in which case it is preferred to the latter, which is so hard and so difficult to split or square. This is the practical objection workmen have to it.


— It has a reddish brown king, which, when dry, readily crushes to a powder. It belongs to my "Turbid Group," that is to say it forms a turbid solution in water.


— It is commonly 60 to 80 feet high, with a trunk diameter of 1 to 2 feet, but is not one of our largest trees.


— The Yellow Box occurs in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. As regards Victoria, Howitt says that it grows in a scattered manner over almost the whole of the State, lowlands and highlands alike, but nowhere exclusively as a forest.

The same observation can be made as regards New South Wales. It is found from south to north, in the mountainous country and table-lands, far away into the Riverina, and into country very dry, though not the driest, and away north-east and north to New England, even to Tenterfield. While I have not collected it in Queensland, I should be surprised if it does not grow in the country around Stanthorpe and the drier country to the west. If our country friends desire to assist seientific investigations, I would point out to them that of the vast majority of our plants we do not know the range, so that if they were to send twigs (or in the case of small plants, whole plants) our knowledge would rapidly increase.

The Yellow Box likes good soil.


— From seed, which is readily procurable.

A few trees that I planted during the winter of 1895 are now (1902) beginning to bloom. When planted they were mere twigs and were removed into the holes in a spadeful of soil taken with them. (J. Brogan)

This is a highly ornamental and shade tree, usually of a drooping habit. It stands a fair amount of cold, while it is very drought-resistant. It will indeed flourish over large areas of country in this State and those who desire to cultivate Eucalupts should remember that this is one of the most desirable species.


Plate 35: The Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora, A. Cunn.) Lithograph by M. Flockton

  • A. Young or sucker leaves.
  • B. Buds.
  • C. Flowers.
  • D. Fruits. (All the above from a specimen from Rocky Hall, Eden to Bombala. J.H.M.)
  • E. Fruits (from Wagga Wagga J.H.M.).

Footnotes Issue No. 33

Supplementary Material Added at the End of Volume 2

No. 33 Part IX.

Eucalyptus melliodora, A. Cunn.


(Natural Order MYRTACEÆ.)

Timber. — See vol. i, p. 196.

Following are some additional northern opinions, or, rather, opinions on the timber as it is found in the north.

Wood is very good for fencing material, but for saw-milling and building purposes it is, in my opinion inferior to E. hemiphloia, Grey Box. — (W. Dunn, Acacia Creek, Macpherson Range.) Yellow Box, E. melliodora, a very hard and durable timber, but has not been used on account, no doubt, of the difficulty of working it. — (Henry Deane, speaking of Glen Innes to Tenterfield trees.)

Mr. Deane says that much of this timber was used for posts and rails near Cudal on the Forbes line.

Habitat. — See vol. i, p. 197.

In the Kanimbla Valley; also in a paddock on Jack White's Creek, half a mile from Hassan's Walls. It is, of course, common on granite country, and in the localities cited it is either on granite or where the detritus from the sandstone ridges is not thick. — (R. H. Cambage and J.H.M., speaking of the Blue Mountain trees.) The quantity is very limited, in this district, its habitat is on low lands with light sandy subsoil and about stockyards- (W. Dunn, Acacia Creek, Macpherson Range.)


Eucalyptus melliodora. The photographs of this beautiful tree were both taken by Mr. W. Forsyth, on the Wagga Wagga-Tarcutta Road, New South Wales

Eucalyptus melliodora, taken by Mr. W. Forsyth, on the Wagga Wagga-Tarcutta Road, New South Wales

  ― 198 ―

No. 34: Evodia accedens,


(Natural Order RUTACÆ.)

Botanical description

— Genus, Evodia (for euphony) Forst. Char. Gen. (as Euodia), t. 7.

Flowers. — More or less unisexual.

Sepals. — Four or five, imbricate.

Petals. — Four or five, valvate or very slightly imbricate.

Disc. — Sinuate

Stamens. — Four or five; filaments subulate or slightly dilated.

Ovary. — Of four or five carpers, usually distinct and style-]ike in the male flowers, more or less united in the females, styles attached below the middle, more or less united with a 4- or 5-lobed stigma.

Ovules. — Two in each carper, collateral or superposed.

Fruit. — Separating more or less completely into coriaceus two-valved cocci, the endocap separating elastically.

Seeds. — Seeds with a crustaceous testa, usually smooth and shining; albumen fleshy; embryo straight, with ovate cotyledons.

Unarmed trees or shrubs.

Leaves. — Opposite, usually digitately three-foliolate or pinnate, rarrely one-foliolate or simple leaflets entire, often large.

Cymes or panicles. — Axillary, or rarely telminal.

Flower. — Small.

A considerable genus, spread over tropical Asia and the islands of the Pacific, and of the Madagascar group; all but one of the Australian species are endemic. The genus differs from Melicope, chiefly in the stamens equal to, not double, the number of petals, from Zanthoxylum by the leaves all or mostly opposite, generally by the more valvate petals and more united styles, besides minor characters offering occasional exceptions. (B.Fl. i, 361.)

Botanical description

— Species Eucalyptus acceders, Blume, Bijdrag., 246.

An erect tree 70 to 80 feet high, thinly pubescent or glabrous.

Bark. — Light-coloured, somewhat thick and corky.

Leaves. — Trifoliate.

Petioles. — 1 to 3 inches long.

Leaflets. — 2 1/2 to 5 inches long, ovate, shortly acuminate, chartaceous, pale on the under side, shortly petiolulate.

  ― 199 ―

Cymes. — Lateral, the flowers croweded, pink, turning bluish as they die away.

Peduncles. — Short.

Perlicles. — About as long as the flowers.

Calyx-lobes. — About 1 1ine long.

Petals. — 2 to 3 lines long, slightly imbricate.

Filaments. — Glabrous, filiform, 1 lines long.

Anthters. — Oblong.

Disc-lobes. — Semi-orbicular.

Style. — 3 to 4 lines long, shortly pubescent.

Stigma. — Minute, capitate, 4-lobed.

Ovary. — Velvety.

Cocci. — Four or less by abortion, slightly compressed, globose-ovate, about 3 lines long.

Seeds. — Dark reddish-brown, ovate globose, 1 1/2 line long.

Botanical Name

— Euodia (Evodia for euphony), from thc Greek Eu, odmos, sweet-smelling, fragrant in allusion to the foliage; accedens, Latin, approching or near to (i.e., resembling another species).

Vernacular Names

— I know of none

Aboriginal Names

— "Bunnec-walwal," of those of Moreton Bay. "Boogoobi," of those of Herberton. (J. F. Bailey.)


— Eucalyptus Elleryana, F.v.M. Fragm., v, 4, 56, 179 and vii, 22. Mueller in Fragm. IX, 102, gives the following synonymy: Euodia accedens, Blume, Bijdrag. 246; Miq. Annal. Mus. Bot. Lugd. Bat. iii, 242, tab. vi. Eucalyptus macrophylla, Bl. l.c.; Eucalyptus speciosa, G. Reich. et Zoll. in Nat. Tijdschr. Ned. Ind. xxix, 255; Xanthoxylon accedens, Miq. Flor. Ind. Bat. I, sect. ii, 671; X. macrophyllum, Miq. l.c.


— The leaves are sometimes infested with the fungus Phyllosticta evodiæ


— The bark of Evodia meliæfolla is used for dyeing, and also in medicine, in China and Japan. Perkin and Hummelnote have investigated the colouring matter the bark contains berberine. Considering the large number of Evodias which occur in this State and Queensland it seems appropriate to suggest that an Australian chemist should subject them to careful examination.


— Wood very white and rather hard. Its timber is not of high importance; it might be useful for carving. The chief value of this species is as an ornamental tree.


— I have seen a little gum resin exuding from a tree of this species.

  ― 200 ―


— According to Mueller; this tree attains a height of 80 feet, but it is usually much smaller.


— This tree is, in Australia, confined to New South Wales and Queensland. In our State it occurs from the Richmond River (its southern range is not yet known), and in Queensland it extends from end to end of the State, in the coast districts in brush forests. It is also found in Ceram and other localities in the Malay Archipelago.


— From seed. It is a shapely, handsome shade tree which is only suitable for the warmer parts of the State, in rich brush soil, and where it can be well sheltered. It is, however, well worthy of caro being fallen with it.


Plate 36: An Evodia (Evodia accedens, Blume) Lithograph by M. Flockton

A. Inflorescence in a lateral cyme, growing out of last year's wood. B. Flower, in vertical section. C. Flower, seen from above. The following letters, except b, apply to both B and C. a. Sepal. b. Petal. c. Stamen d. Disc. e. Ovary. D. Petal. E. Stamens. F. Flower, with petals; and stamens removed. G. Transverse section of ovary. H. Fruiting branch. I. Two of the four cocci. K, Open coccus, containing two seeds. L. Seed.

Footnotes Issue No. 34

Sydney : William Applegate Goverment Printer. 1904.
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