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Ludlow, WA

Jurien Bay, WA

buds, fruits

Natural populations

Eucalyptus gomphocephala occurs in a narrow limestone belt along the coastal plain north and south of Perth in Western Australia [1,2,3]. It extends from near Busselton in the south to near Cervantes, 200 km north of Perth. Occurrences are usually to the lee of coastal sand dune systems and in some areas this zone is only 1 km wide. There are with some minor extensions inland from this coastal limestone belt, mainly along river banks. In the southernmost parts of its range, this species is a tall tree attaining up to 40 m in height with large girths. At the northern extent of its range, it has a spreading habit and may only attain 10-15 m in height; multi-stemmed mallee forms also occur in this area. This species grows on hilly to undulating terrain derived from sand plains. Limestone, formed from the leaching of marine deposits, typically outcrops or occurs at depth in the soil profile. In some areas populations of this species are declining in vigour and are the focus of current research [4].

Flowering and seeds

This species flowers from January to April [1,5]. Seed capsules persist on trees until at least the following summer. Eucalyptus gomphocephala appears to produce abundant seed crops after a number of intervening poor seed years. There are about 90 viable seeds per gram; seeds start to germinate in about 5 days if grown at 25°C with no pretreatment required [5].

Cultivation and uses

Eucalyptus gomphocephala tolerates strong coastal winds and sandy, alkaline soils derived from limestone. It performs best in coastal or subcoastal sites and under cultivation is a hardy, shadey tree. A good example of its persistance on near coastal sites where mobile sand dunes are active can be seen in a lone tree at the Old Eucla Telegraph Station near the Western Australian border, cultivated around the time this building was established. Eucalyptus gomphocephala produces hard, dense, durable wood that is relatively termite-resistant and in the past has been used for for keelsons, stern posts, bridge supports, shafts and wheelwright work [1]. It is also an excellent honey producer, considered moderately salt tolerant and tolerates salt laden winds [6].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 800-900 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: winter
Mean annual temperature: 12-21 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 26-30 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 8-10 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): frost free or more or less frost free
Altitude: 0-50 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant or known to be tolerant of protracted droughts
Fire: killed by damaging fire does not regenerate foliage
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Wind: known or has attributes to make an excellent windbreak, tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors
Texture: loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: alkaline (greater than 7.5)
Soil depth: skeletal to shallow (less than 30 cm) or moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Drainage:  well-drained
Salinity: slightly to moderately saline or non-saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in pH: alkalinity
Extremes in texture: sand
Salinity: slight (2-4 dS m-1)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: nil - sensitive to waterlogged soils
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen tree 10-40 m tall
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Growth rate: fast or moderate
Coppicing ability: vigorous, responds to pruning, pollarding(?) or nil or negligible(?)
Root system: moderate to deep
Erosion control potential: excellent for sandy sites
Windbreak potential: excellent (known or has good attributes), tolerates salty coastal winds
Wood density: mod. to high (greater than 600 kg/cubic metre)
Carbon sequestration potential: high
Uses
Potential farm use: excellent windbreak, good for fence posts, shelterbelt or shade for stock
Specialty products: flowers produce nectar for honey production, pollen has value for apiculture
Wildlife value: a critical food source for at least one species, flowers are especially attractive to birds
Wood products: boat building, heavy construction, high quality fuelwood, poles (building, transmission, piling), posts (including fencing), termite resistant
Potentially undesirable attributes
Fire sensitivity: killed by severe fires (seeder)
Growth habit: shallow roots may outcompete adjacent plants

References

[1] Boland DJ, Brooker MIH, Chippendale GM, Hall N, Hyland BPM, Johnson RD, Kleinig DA, McDonald MW, Turner JD (2006) Forest Trees of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.

[2] Slee AV, Connors J, Brooker MIH, Duffy SM, West JG (2006) EUCLID Eucalypts of Australia. Third Edition CD ROM Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

[3] Tuart Atlas Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation NatureBase website: http://www.naturebase.net/content/view/932/845/ Accessed March 2008.

[4] Conserving tuart Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation NatureBase website:  http://www.naturebase.net/content/view/928/839/ Accessed March 2008.

[5] Gunn BV (2001) Australian Tree Seed Centre Operations Manual. Internal Publication, CSIRO Australian Tree Seed Centre, ACT. [Online at http://www.ensisjv.com/Portals/0/atsc-opmanualcomplete.pdf  Accessed March 2008]

[6] Marcar NE, Crawford DF (2004) Trees for Saline Landscapes. RIRDC Publication Number 03/108, Canberra.

Internet links

Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation NatureBase 'Conserving Tuart': http://www.naturebase.net/content/view/928/839/ Accessed March 2008.

Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation NatureBase 'Tuart Atlas': http://www.naturebase.net/content/view/932/845/ Accessed March 2008.

Western Australian Department of Food and Agriculture: http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/ [Search site as several documents may relate to this species.]

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