Plants of
South Australia
Eucalyptus odorata
Peppermint Box,
Mallee Box
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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 paintings: 11

Prior names

Eucalyptus odorata var. erythranda

Eucalyptus fruticetorum, questionably

Eucalyptus odorata var. angustifolia

Common names

Peppermint Box

Mallee Box


Eucalyptus from the Greek 'eu' meaning well and 'calyptos' meaning covered; alluding to the cap or lid which covers the stamens in the bud. Odorata from the Latin 'odoratus' meaning having a smell; referring to the scent of the leaves when crushed.

Distribution and status

Found on southern Eyre Peninsula, southern Flinders Ranges, Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and around Keith and Bordertown, growing on sandy-loam to clay-loam soils. Also found in Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Uncommon in Victoria. Peppermint Box Grassy Woodlands are unique to South Australia and is nationally listed as a critically endangered ecological community.
Herbarium regions: Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Multi- or single-stemmed trees to 20 m high with rough, coarse, dark-grey bark on at least the lower half, smooth and brownish above, shedding in long strips. Adult leaves to 115 mm long and 20 mm wide, on stalk to 15 mm long, narrow-lanceolate, dull to glossy, dark-olive-green. Flowers in groups of 7-11 in axils of leaves. Buds to 8 mm long and 4 mm wide, bud-cap cone-shape equal in length to the base. Flowers white. Flowering between March and October. Fruits are cup-shaped to barrel-shaped fruit to 8 mm long and 7 mm wide, with a narrow rim and descending disk, valves 4 or 5 below the rim. Seeds are brown ovoid seed to 1.2 mm long and 0.7 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 but preferably during summer. Leave the fruits in a breathable container in a dry room for at least a week. 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 high, at 95%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
21,250 (7.05 g)
21,250 (7.05 g)
Southern Lofty
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: