no previous
no next

  ― 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

no previous
no next