Plants of
South Australia
Eucalyptus gongylocarpa
Desert Gum,
Marble Gum
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock painting: 1

Prior names

Eucalyptus eudesmioides

Common names

Desert Gum

Marble Gum


Eucalyptus from the Greek 'eu' meaning well and 'calyptos' meaning covered; alluding to the cap or lid which covers the stamens in the bud. Gongylocarpa from the Greek 'gongylos' meaning round and 'carpos' meaning fruit; referring to the species distinctively spherical fruits.

Distribution and status

Found in the western part of South Australia, in the northern part of the Great Victoria Desert, growing on deep red snads on plains and sand dunes. Also found in Western Australia and Northern Territory. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium region: North Western
NRM region: Alinytjara Wilurara
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Single-stemmed trees to 16 m high with smooth, whitish bark with scattered yellow-brown flakes of shedding bark. Juvenile leaves waxy, lanceolate below but becoming ovate higher, with numerous branched hairs. Adult leaves to 80 mm long and 18 mm wide, elliptical to lanceolate, glaucous at first but becoming grey-green as the wax is lost. Flowers in groups of 4-9 on long stalk in leaf axils. Buds to 6 mm long and 5 mm wide, club-shaped, bud-cap round, somewhat truncate, shorter than the base. Flowers white or creamy appearing at all times of the year after rains. Fruits are woody, round fruit to 11 mm long and 12 mm wide, somewhat truncate at the apex and base, glaucous at first, disk descending and white, valves 3-4 enclosed below the rim. Seeds are dark brown to black pyramid-shaped seed to 6 mm long and 4 mm wide. Seed embryo type is folded.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect mature fruits that are dark and hard (difficult to break with a finger nail), with the valves un-open any time of year. Leave the fruits in a breathable container in a dry room for one to two weeks. This allows the valves on the fruit to open and release the seeds. Separate the seeds by placing all the materials into a bucket and shaking it to dislodge the seeds. Pass the material through a sieve to separate the unwanted material. The finer material will contain both seeds (soft) and frass (hard) usually distinguishable from each other but can be very similar in shape and colour. With finer sieves, the seeds can be separated from the frass but this is not essential for storage or propagation. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. From one collection, the seed viability was low, at 35%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA4,900 (9.21 g)20+20-May-2014DJD2920
North Western
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.
Germination table: