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No. 156: Eucalyptus Bosistoana,


Bosisto's Box.

(Family MYRTACEÆ.)

Botanical description.

— Genus, Eucalyptus, already described. (See Part II, p. 33)

Botanical description.

— Species, E. Bosistoana, F.v.M., in Australasian Journ. Pharm., 1895.

Finally tall; branchlets slender, at first angular.

Leaves. — On rather short petioles, almost chartaceous, mostly narrow or elongate-lanceolar, somewhat falcate, very copiously dotted with translucent oil glandules, generally dull-green -on both sides, their lateral venules distant, much divergent, the peripheric venule, distinctly distant from the edge of the leaf, all faint.

Leaves. — of young Seedlings.-Roundish or ovate, scattered, stalked; umbels few-flowered, either axillar-solitary or racemosely arranged.

Peduncles. — Nearly as long as the umbels or oftener variously shorter, slightly or sometimes broadly compressed.

Pedicels. — Usually much shorter, rather thick and angular.

Tube of the Calyx. — Turbinate-semiovate, slightly angular.

Lid. — Fully as long as the tube, semiovate-hemispheric, often distinctly pointed.

Stamens. — All fertile, the inner filaments abruptly inflected before expansion; anthers very small, cordate or ovate-roundish, opening by longitudinal slits.

Style. — Short; stigma somewhat dilated.

Fruit. — Comparatively small, nearly semiovate, its rim narrow, its valves 5–6 or rarely 4, deltoid, totally enclosed, but sometimes reaching to the rim; sterile seeds very numerous, narrow or short; fertile seeds few, ovate, compressed, slightly pointed.

In swampy localities at Cabramatta and in some other places of the County of Cumberland, and also in the County of Camden (Rev. Dr. Woolls); near Mount Dromedary (Miss Bate); near Twofold Bay (L. Morton); near the Genoa (Barnard); on the summit of the Tantawanglo Mountains, and also near the Mitchell River (Howitt); between the Tambo and Nicholson Rivers (Schlipalius); near the StrezIecki Ranges (Olsen). The "Wul Wul" of the aborigines of the County of Dampier; the "Darjan" of the aborigines of Gippsland. Called locally by the colonists of New South Wales Ironbark Box-tree, and in some places also Grey Box-tree, which appellations indicate the nature of the wood and bark, though the latter may largely be shedding.

As richly oil-yielding, and also as exuding much kino, this tree is especially appropriate to connect therewith the name of Joseph Bosisto, Esq., C.M.G., who investigated many of the products of the Eucalypts, and gave them industrial and commercial dimensions.

This species, in its systematic affinities, is variously connected with E. odorata, E. siderophloia, E. hemiphloia, and E. drepanophylla. A fuller account of this valuable tree will early be given. (Op. cit.)

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Shortly after the publication of E. Bosistoana, I wrote to Baron von Mueller, pointing out that he had confused two trees in his description, namely, a "Grey Box" and an "Ironbark Box." He thanked me for the information, and stated he intended to publish further notes on the tree (as, indeed, he promised at the conclusion of the description), but his intention was frustrated by pressure of work, and subsequent death.

Botanical Name.

— Eucalyptus, already explained (see Part II, p. 34) Bosistoana, in honour of the late Joseph Bosisto, M.L.A., of Richmond, Melbourne. See my "Records of Victorian Botanists," in Vict. Nat., xxv, p. 103 (1908).

Vernacular Names.

— "Red Box." It goes most commonly under this name in the South Coast and Monaro, in reference to its pinkish colour when fresh.

"Of late it has received the local name of 'Grey Box' from the splitters and saw-millers." (A. W. Howitt, speaking of GippsIand.) "Yellow Box" of the County of Cumberland, N.S.W. (see this page and also p. 60). "Bastard Box" of the County of Cumberland, N.S.W. (see this page and also p. 60). It is called "Bastard Box," from a belief amongst soine timber men that it is a tree of which the true Yellow Box (melliodora) is one of the parents.

Aboriginal Name.

— I believe "Togoygora" to have been a name in use by aborigines in the County of Cumberland, N.S.W, according to observations by George Caley (1800-1810). See Agric. Gazette N.S.W., p. 989 (1903).


— (1) E. bicolor, Woolls (Contrib. Flora of Australia, 232), non A. Cunn.; see also p. 7 of Part xi of the "Critical Revision of the genus Eucalyptus."

In the Woollsian Herbarium, which is my property, there is a specimen in Dr. Woolls' handwriting, bearing the following label:—

"Yellow or bastard Box, half-barked when young, nearly smooth when full-grown. Hard wood. Height, 120 feet.' Cabramatta. E. bicolor."

On another occasion Dr. Woolls labelled a similar specimen from Cabramatta E. largiflorens.

There is no question as to the identity of this tree, even if his specimens did not make it quite clear. It is E. Bosistoana, F.v.M., is typical for the species, as determined by Mueller himself (Mueller first labelled this specimen E. odorata, Behr, and then E. Bosistoana), and the assumption that Woolls' determination of the tree as E. bicolor was correct has given rise to some curious mistakes. See my paper, Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., xxvii, 519 (1902), for a full account of the matter.

(2.) E. odorata, Howitt, non Behr. See p. 58.


E. Bosistoana. — This tree has in many respects a superficial resemblance to E. melliodora, with which it was for a long time locally confounded in Gippsland....

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The difference between E. Bosistoana and E. melliodora was long apparent to me, from a careful comparison of the trees growing in the Mitchell River district, and especially from distinctions which have been apparent to the timber men there. The wood of this Eucalypt is much browner in colour than that of E. melliodora, and while the timber of the latter can very rarely be split into posts or rails, that of the former, although it is difficult to split "on the quarter," is, when once the log is opened, "backed off" with great ease. The principal differences upon which a rapid diagnosis may be made lie in the greatly superior height of E. Bosistoana, in its freer growth, the rhytiphloious (fibrous) bark, the smooth upper portion of the stem and limbs, and the somewhat larger fruit, with a narrow, compressed rim, and more deeply sunk orifice. Finally the outer stamens are all provided with fertile anthers, while those of E. melliodora are anantherous.

The timber of this tree is most durable, and is one of the most serviceable of the Eucalypts of Victoria, especially for work which is exposed to damp. (A. W. Howitt in Trans. Roy. Soc. Vict., ii, 95, 1890-1.)

In the above passage, where E. Bosistoana occurs, there is E. odorata in the original, as Mueller made that species very comprehensive, and afterwards carved E. Bosistoana out of it.

Mr. Howitt subsequently wrote to me: "The greatest care should be taken to preserve this timber. for the reason that where works of construction require great durability and strength combined with length of material, there is no Victorian Eucalypt to compare with this."

"Red Box abounds in this district, and I am assured by persons who are competent to judge, equal, if not superior, to Ironbark for strength and durability. Recommended to be tested for sleepers and bridge-building." (The late Forest Ranger Benson, Wagonga, N.S.W., writing in 1893.)

I have a specimen of the same timber, called "Grey Box," from the Muckindary Bridge, Bombala, N.S.W., part of a pile nineteen years in the ground. It is quite sound, but has split badly.

The following, notes concerning the same timber I obtained verbally from Mr. A. R. Crawford, of Wingello, N.S.W.:—

"A splendid timber, no faults of any kind. Good for wheelwrighting, shafts, and all frame work."

Mr. Crawford further says that this is the best Box he has ever worked, and he has worked that of Hill Top, Orange, &c.

It will be observed that all these witnesses uniformly speak most highly of this timber.

It is a brown timber, drying paler. It is hard, and without gum veins. The tree has good clean stems and smooth branches.


— This tree grows to 200 feet, or in exceptional cases to perhaps 250 feet in height. (A. W. Howitt, loc. Cit.)


— So far as we know at present, it is confined to eastern New South Wales, from the Illawarra and the southern tableland in the north as far as North Gippsland (Bairnsdale district), Victoria in the south.

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It grows only in GippsIand, especially on limestone formations, commencing to the westward of Bairnsdale, and extending beyond Lake Tyers. Unfortunately, it grew principally upon lands which were required for settlement, and consequently, immense quantities of this tree have been ringbarked. It is still found growing on some private lands, on some unalienated Crown lands, in the neighbourhood of lake King, and in Cunninghame State Forest. (A. W. Howitt, in an unpublished report, 1895.)

I have observed a small colony of E. Bosistoana (E. odorata in original) growing in South Gippsland, near Four-mile Creek. The occurrence of this tree in the Miocene limestones of North Gippsland falls in with the statement made by Baron von Mueller that it occurs upon limestone areas at St. Vincent's Gulf.note (A. W. Howitt, loc. cil., p. 95.)

It grows principally on the Miocene limestones in the littoral tracts of North Gippsland. (A. W. Howitt in a letter to me.)


Following is a copy of a label by Oldfield (dated 1866), in Herb. Barbey-Boissier:— "Box-tree. — Tree, 160 feet; bark dark grey, spongy on trunk; limbs very white, soft to the touch,. like velvet. Stony Ranges, called Mountain Hut Range, near Eden, Twofold Bay." Later, the label bears the name E. leucoxylon in Oldfield's handwriting. The specimens are E. Bosistoana, F.v.M. There are similar specimens in Herb. Cant. labelled "No. IX Eucalyptus leucoxylon, F.M., 'Box-tree,' New South Wales, Hb. Oldfield," and, doubtless, in other herbaria.

This is the key, in my opinion, to the use of the name "Box" having been attached to E. leucoxylon. The name Box is never used in Australia for true E. leucoxylon, so far as my experience goes. If it is soused, it must be very rarely.

Bega district; also "Red, Grey, White Box," Cobargo (J. S. Allan); Mt. Dromedary (Miss Bate); " Grey Box," Noorooma (A. Langley); abounds in Wagonga district (F. R. Benson); "Grey Box" (J. V. de Coque); and "Red Box" (J. S. Allan), both in the Moruya district; Lower Araluen (J.H.M.); Milton; also "Yellow Box," West Dapto (R. H Cambage); "Box" or "White Box" of Razorback, 4 miles from Wingello (J.H.M. and J. L. Boorman); Marulan (A. Murphy). (E. Bosistoana, from Marulan, was provisionally determined by F.v.M. as E. bicolor many years ago.) Bullio to Wombeyan (R. H. Cambage and J.H.M.).

Cabramatta district, County of Cumberland, occurring between Bankstown and the Cabramatta Railway Station, and also thence to Bringelly and Cabramatta (now Rossmore).

Woolls' Cabramatta specimens, already referred to, have large, plump flower buds; there are no fruits.

"There used to be some large trees of it near Bringelly, growing in a swampy place. Wood reddish-yellow and very tough when dry." (W. Woolls.)

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Then on specimens collected by J. L. Boorman at Bankstown, on 8th February, 1900, he and I made the following notes:—

"No. 13, 'Yellow Box.' Very tall trees, ribbony base. Clean grey tips from, 12 to 14 feet from ground. Leaves elliptic ovate, acuminate, of a glaucous colour. Timber yellow. Usually known as Bastard Box."

Subsequently, on 20th July, 1901, I went to Cabramatta with Mr. Bowman and interviewed Mr. Hoy, a local resident, in regard to the range of this tree in the district and compared the local Grey Box (E. hemiphloia) wtih it.


Plate 160: Bosisto's Box. (Eucalyptus Bosistoana, F.v.M.) Lithograph by Margaret Flockton.

  • A. Juvenile leaf, from a specimen collected by Oldfield in 1866 at Twofold Bay, N.S.W.
  • B. Juvenile leaf, from Wingello, N.S.W.
  • C. Flowering twig, Bankstown and Cabramatta, a few miles south of Sydney.
  • D. Buds, from Cabramatta.
  • E. Anther
  • F. Fruit
  • G. Unripe fruit, showing rim, from Wingello.
  • H. Fruit with exserted valves, from Bega, N.S.W.

Footnotes Issue No. 157.