Plants of
South Australia
Eucalyptus obliqua
Messmate Stringybark,
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 11

Prior names

Eucalyptus falcifolia

Eucalyptus nervosa

Eucalyptus obliqua var. degressa

Eucalyptus obliqua var. megacarpa

Common names

Messmate Stringybark



Eucalyptus from the Greek 'eu' meaning well and 'calyptos' meaning covered; alluding to the cap or lid which covers the stamens in the bud. Obliqua from the Latin 'obliquus' meaning oblique; referring to the unequal length of the leaf bases. This species was used as the type specimen for the genus Eucalyptus.

Distribution and status

Found on Kangaroo Island, southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the lower South-east in South Australia; growing on fertile soils in high rainfall areas. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Single to multi-stemmed tree to 40 m tall (tall in eastern states) with stringy fibrous bark. Juvenile leaves opposite for many pairs then becoming disjunct, ovate to broad-lanceolate, glossy green. Adult leaves broad-lanceolate to falcate, to 220 mm long and 60 mm wide, shiny green. Inflorescence axillary clusters with 11-21 white flowers. Buds to 9 mm long and 5 mm wide, bud-cap conical shorter that the base. Flowering between December and March. Fruits are woody wine-glass shape fruit to 12 mm long and 11 mm wide, on individual stalk, disc descending, valves 3 or 4 below the rim. Seeds are dark brown irregularly pyramidal seed to 2.5 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, with angled sides and covered in fine wrinkles. 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. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.