The tree notable for its mottled colourful yellow to orange bark, strongly discolourous leaves and inflorescences grouped on leafless branchlets inside the tree crown. The old bark is smooth and grey, shedding in irregular patches to expose the fresh yellowy-brown bark. Flowers are creamy-white in summer. The capsules are barrel to urn shaped.
Sugar Gums from the Flinders Ranges reach up to 35 metres (115 ft) in height and have the classic "gum" habit - with a straight trunk and steep branches occurring about halfway up. Each main branch ends with its own little canopy. These are commonly cultivated as farm windbreaks and for timber. However, Eyre Peninsula and Kangaroo Island trees are much shorter and often have crooked trunks.