Plants of
South Australia
Eucalyptus phenax ssp. compressa
Kangaroo Island White Mallee,
Kangaroo Island Mallee
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
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Prior names

Eucalyptus phenax ssp. 'Kangaroo Island'

Eucalyptus anceps, partly

Common names

Kangaroo Island White Mallee

Kangaroo Island Mallee


Eucalyptus from the Greek 'eu' meaning well and 'calyptos' meaning covered, alluding to the cap or lid which covers the stamens in the bud. Phenax from the Greek meaning imposter, alluding to the species being misapplied to E. anceps. Compressa from the Latin 'compressus' meaning pressed together, referring to the relatively crowded fruits compared to E. phenax subsp. phenax.

Distribution and status

Endemic to South Australia and found on the eastern side of Kangaroo island and on the Fleurieu Peninsula growing in mallee vegetation on gravelly clay to loams. Native. Rare in South Australia.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Multi-trunked mallee to 7 m high with smooth, coppery to grey to cream bark throughout. Juvenile leaves ovate, dull green to slightly blue-green. Adult leaves to 140 mm long and 35 mm wide, lanceolate to broad-lanceolate, maturing glossy green. Flowers in groups of 7-9 in the axils of the leaves, lacking individual stalks. Buds to 13 mm long and 6 mm wide, bud-cap rounded to cone-shaped equal in width or slightly wider than the base. Flowers creamy-white appearing spring and summer. This subspecies is distinguished from E. phenax ssp. phenax in their distributions, longer peduncles and fruits which are about equal in length and width (longer than wide in E. phenax ssp. phenax). Fruits are cup-shaped to barrel-shaped fruit to 8 mm long and 10 mm wide, lacking individual stalks; disc descending, valves 3-5 level to rim. Seeds are red-brown ovoid seed to 2.5 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, with reticulated surface. 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 high, at 80%. Seeds are non-dormant, viable seed should germinate readily.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA3,400 (3.73 g)510-Mar-2010DJD1807
Southern Lofty
BGA330 (0.318 g)74-Mar-2022JRG869
Kangaroo Island
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.