Eucalyptus polyanthemos

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Red Box
Eucalyptus polyanthemos vestita.jpg
Eucalyptus polyanthemos subsp. vestita at Christmas Hills, Victoria.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Eucalyptus
E. polyanthemos
Binomial name
Eucalyptus polyanthemos
  • E. ovalifolia R.T.Baker
  • E. ovalifolia var. lanceolata R.T.Baker & H.G.Sm.
  • E. ovalifolia R.T.Baker var. ovalifolia

Eucalyptus polyanthemos, commonly known as Red Box, is a small to medium-sized tree, native to New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria in Australia. It is an introduced species in California where it is known as silver dollar gum, redbox or redbox gum.


Adult leaves and immature fruit

Red Box grows to between 7 and 25 metres, often with a crooked trunk and is noted for its domed canopy of greyish foliage. Bark may be smooth or fibrous and persistent.[1]

The juvenile leaves are round and grey-green and the adult leaves are ovate and between 5 and 10 cm in length and 2 to 5 cm in width with long petioles. Veins on the leaves are distinct and the marginal vein is notably distant from the leaf edge.[1]

Flower buds appear in groups of 3 to 7 and have small conical caps. The white flowers appear between September and January (early spring to mid summer) in the species native range, followed by pear-shaped fruits which are 4 to 7 mm long and 3 to 6 mm wide and have enclosed valves.[1][2]


Fibrous bark of E. polyanthemos subsp. vestita

The species was first formally described by German botanist Johannes Schauer in Repertorium Botanices Systematicae in 1843. This description was based on the type specimen which was collected by Allan Cunningham from Bathurst, New South Wales in 1822.[3]

Four subspecies are listed in the Australian Plant Name Index:[3]

  • E. polyanthemos subsp. longior Brooker, Connors & Slee. First described in 1996 from a type specimen collected from north of Waygara, Victoria.
  • Eucalyptus polyanthemos subsp. marginalis Rule. This subspecies was described in 2004 from a type specimen collected near Tottington, Victoria.
  • E. polyanthemos Schauer subsp. polyanthemos, the autonym, which occurs in New South Wales and has mostly smooth bark which is shed in large plates or scales and occasionally persists on the trunk.[2]
  • Eucalyptus polyanthemos subsp. vestita L.A.S.Johnson & K.D.Hill. This subspecies was described in 1960 from the type specimen which was collected near St Andrews, Victoria.[3] The trunk and larger branches usually have grey-brown fibrous bark[1][2]


Juvenile foliage

Red Box occurs in dry open forest south from Gulgong, New South Wales, including the central and southern tablelands and southward into central and eastern Victoria. Discrete populations occur in the upper Hunter Region and also in Gippsland.[1][2] The species often appears in association with Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) or Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus tricarpa) or other box species. It is found on hillsides and in gullies on shallow soils derived from sedimentary rock or alternatively in open flat country on deep loam soils. [1] It has been recorded as an invasive species in California [4]


The larvae of the moth species Trichiocercus sparshalli and the Eucalyptus Leaf Mining Sawfly Phylacteophaga froggatti feed on the leaves.[5][6] Large, old trees may form hollows that are used as nests for owls including the Barking Owl (Ninox connivens).[7]

Significant trees[edit]

A Red Box in Fraser National Park is recorded on the Significant Tree Register of the National Trust of Australia in Victoria. It is an unusual form with contorted limbs which is estimated to be around 80 years old and is 26.7 metres high.[8]

In Gilmore in the Australian Capital Territory, a tree known as Murumbeeja Scarred Red Box No 1 is listed on the Register of the National Estate. It is a scarred tree, marking the removal by aborigines of bark, probably for canoe construction.[9]


The species is noted for its drought tolerance.[10] Although usually considered to be slow growing, newly planted trees may have their growth rate enhanced with improved soil, good drainage and irrigation in the first two years.[10] The species is resistant to Armillaria root rot. [11] A minimum temperature of -10 °C (15 °F) is required for cultivation.[12]


Red Box is used as an ornamental tree for street and park planting.[10] The timber is red in colour and is strong, hard and durable. It has been used for fence posts, railway sleepers and firewood.[13] The juvenile foliage is used in floral arrangements.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Costermans, L. (1981). Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia. Australia: Rigby. ISBN 072701403X.
  2. ^ a b c d Hill, K. "Eucalyptus polyanthemos". PlantNET - New South Wales Flora Online. Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney Australia. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  3. ^ a b c "Eucalyptus polyanthemos". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  4. ^ "Eucalyptus polyanthemos". Weeds Gone Wild. Plant Conservation Alliance. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  5. ^ Herbison-Evans, Don and Stella Crossley. "Trichiocercus sparshalli (Curtis, 1830)". Caterpillars: especially Australian ones. Archived from the original on 2008-07-26. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  6. ^ "Eucalyptus leaf mining sawfly". ensis. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  7. ^ "Barking Owl-profile". Department of Environment and Climate Change NSW. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  8. ^ "Register". National Trust of Australia - Victoria. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  9. ^ "Murumbeeja Scarred Red Box No 1 (listing RNE18767)". Australia Heritage Places Inventory. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
  10. ^ a b c "Eucalyptus polyanthemos". Metro Trees. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  11. ^ "Plants resistant or susceptible to Armillaria root rot" (PDF). Chase Horticultural Research. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  12. ^ Smith, Ken (1978). Western Home Landscaping. HP Books. ISBN 0895860120.
  13. ^ Chippendale, G.M (1998). "Eucalyptus polyanthemos Schauer". Flora of Australia Vol. 19, Myrtaceae, Eucalyptus, Angophora. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
  14. ^ "E. polyanthemos Schauer". The Jepson Manual Online. The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2008-03-20.