River Red Gum, Red Gum, Murray Red Gum, River Gum (WA)
River red gum is the most widely distributed of all eucalypts and is found in all Australian mainland States. It typically occurs along watercourses and on flood plains. Its latitudinal range is 12-38o S and its altitudinal range is 20-700 m. (NT, QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, SA, WA)
A fast-growing tree, commonly 20 m tall and occasionally reaching 45 m, with a dimater of 1-2 m or more. When grown in the open, it has a short, thick bole and a large, spreading crown. In plantations, it can have a clear trunk of 20 m with a lightly-branched crown. The smooth bark is white or grey, and sheds in strips or flakes sometimes with rough bark on the trunk base. In adult trees, the leaves are lanceolate (length 4 times its width and broadest towards the tip), 8-30 cm long, 7-20 mm wide, green or grey green; with a leaf stalk 12-15 mm long. The buds are 4-6 mm long, 3-6 mm wide, with a hemispherical, pointed or conical cap (operculum). The 7-11 flower buds form an umbel (individual flower stalks of similar length forming a cluster).The fruit is hemispherical or ovoid, 5-8 mm long and wide; with 3-5 pointed valves, containing about 15 yellow-brown seeds. There are about 600 000 viable seed per kilogram of seed and chaff (dry unfertilised ovules) mixture and they germinate readily without pre-treatment.
Ecology/Way of Life:
This species grows in warm to hot, sub-humid to semi-arid climates. Up to 20 frosts annually may occur in southern and inland areas. Mean annual rainfall is mainly in the range 250-600 mm. In low rainfall areas it relies on seasonal flooding and/or a high watertable. Rainfall has a winter maximum in the south and is monsoonal in northern Australia. Eucalyptus camaldulensis occurs mainly on heavy clays in southern Australia and sandy alluvial soils in the north. It is found on salt lakes margins but is not adapted to calcareous soils. River red gum is typically a riverine species and in arid areas has a ribbon-like distribution across the landscape. It also occurs on flood plains in open-forest or woodlands dominated by eucalypts.
Interaction with Humans/Threats:
Extensively planted outside of Australia, where it is successful because of its tolerance of extreme drought and high temperature, combined with rapid growth when water is available; it is also tolerant of periodic waterlogging, soil salinity, and has good coppicing ability and useful wood. Timber from natural stands is red, fine-textured and has interlocking wavy grain. It is hard, durable, resistant to termites and has many uses. The wood of planted E. camaldulensis is used mainly for poles, posts, firewood, charcoal and paper pulp. In Brazil, it supports large-scale production of charcoal for the iron and steel industry. It is used for hardboard and particle board. Logs are sawn for construction timber, furniture and packing cases, although quality is sometimes poor. It is widely planted for shade, shelter and amenity purposes and as a source of nectar for honey production. Some tropical populations have the potential for medicinal-grade eucalypt oil production. It competes strongly for water in dry areas but has rarely become a weed.
Eucalyptus camaldulensis was named in 1832 by the German botanist, Frederick Dehnhardt, in Italy, based on a cultivated tree at Camalduli in Tuscany, Italy; the name for the genus comes from the Greek eu =, meaning well, and calyptos = covered, referring to the cap or lid (operculum) which covers the stamens in the bud; the species name camaldulensis refers to Camalduli).
Boland, D.J., Brooker, M.I.H., Chippendale, G.M., Hall, N., Hyland, B.P.M., Kleinig, D.A., Johnston, R.D. and Turner, J.D. 1984. Forest trees of Australia. 4th ed. Nelson and CSIRO, Melbourne. 687p.
Brooker, M.I.H. and Kleinig, D.A. 1983-1994. Field guide to the eucalypts. 3 vols. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Doran, J.C. and Turnbull, J.W. (eds.) 1997. Australian trees and shrubs; species for land rehabilitation and farm planting in the tropics. ACIAR Monograph no. 24. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra. 384p.
Jacobs, M.R. 1979. Eucalypts for planting. FAO Forestry series no. 11. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome.677p.
Topics:Timber Soils Salinity issues Honey Aboriginal resources Oil production Waterlogging Pollination Firewood
Text & map from Australian Trees and Shrubs, courtesy Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; text edited by J. Turnbull; photo courtesy Maurice McDonald.
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