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South Australian blue gum

One of my favourite trees is Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp leucoxylon, commonly called the South Australian blue gum.

The species name leucoxylon is a reference to the pale timber of the plant and literally means white wood whereas the common name, blue gum refers to the juvenile foliage which can have a glaucous almost pale blue hue about it.

It is a widespread species throughout South Australia in the Mt Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, and there is a limited occurrence in the southern Flinders and the lower south east. At its best in the higher rainfall areas and on fertile soils it is an outstanding stately tree with a tall straight trunk and a spreading canopy.

I was at Williamstown not long ago and marvelled at the group of three mature trees growing naturally not far from the main road near the Soldier’s Memorial Hall. These trees would be close to 30 metres high with substantial wide trunks with smooth bark that is almost a cream colour with some dappled patches of grey. These stately old trees would host a variety of wildlife and some tree hollows were evident in the canopies.

The flowers of South Australian blue gum can vary in colour, from cream to pink to even deep red. And their nectar and pollen are much sought after by birds, native bees, insects and possums.

Some of my other favourite specimens of South Australian blue gum occur in the Monarto region. There are some large specimens in the roadside vegetation near the Monarto Zoo and these put on a good flower show every year of various shades of colour in winter and spring. I collected some seed from this stand a number of years ago and planted a seedling in my backyard at Callington and was very pleased when the seedling produced red flowers which each year a family of Rosellas regularly visit. Another beautiful stand of South Australian blue gums occur in the Monarto Conservation Park. These old trees are not as tall as their counterparts in the Mt Lofty Ranges but have a wider spreading crown and their smooth trunks have a streaked pattern which is very attractive when the dappled light embraces the trees.

South Australian blue gum is highly recommended for larger gardens, parklands or as a stately paddock tree and its appearance adds much beauty to our South Australian landscapes.