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Pingarup, WA

Katanning, WA

Buds and fruits

Bark

Natural populations

This species is endemic to the Avon Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, extending from the Quairading-Pingaring area southwards to Ongerup and west to Wagin [1,2]. It is is a medium-sized tree 5–10 m tall, usually with a short trunk and steeply ascending crown branches. Eucalyptus spathulata is adapted to heavy clay soils that are alkaline, saline or poorly drained and occurs along drainage lines and depressions, often fringing salt lakes in areas subject to flooding. Northern stands in the Quairading to Pingaring area were recently described as subsp. salina and differ from the typical subspecies in having glossy leaves and a somewhat pointy operculum [6].

Flowering and seeds

Eucalyptus spathulata flowers from December to March [1,4]. Seed capsules usually persist on trees until at least the following summer. There are about 500 viable seeds per gram; seeds start to germinate in about 5 days if grown at 20-25°C with no pretreatment required [4].

Cultivation and uses

Eucalyptus spathulata can be grown on range of sites, including heavy soils affected by high levels of salinity, seasonally waterlogged areas [5] and on sandy alkaline soils derived from limestone (eg, Perth metro region). It has been cultivated throughout many parts of southern Australia as an amenity plant because of its attractive smooth bark and unusual narrow leaves. The wood of E. spathulata is dense, hard, pale brown wood with potential as a source of fuelwood and craftwood [1]. Eucalyptus spathulata rates highly as a windbreak and produces pollen useful for apiculture [6].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 300-450 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: winter
Mean annual temperature: 13-19 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 29-31 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 4-5 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): up to 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 250-380 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Drought: 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: tolerates salt-laden coastal winds
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, heavy clay (greater than 50% clay), light to medium clay (35-50% clay), loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: neutral (6.5-7.5) or. alkaline (greater than 7.5)
Soil depth: moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Soil drainage:  poorly to imperfectly drained or 3. seasonally waterlogged
Salinity: highly saline or slightly to moderately saline
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in pH: alkalinity
Extremes in texture: clayey
Salinity: extremely high (> 16 dS m-1), high (9-16 dS m-1), moderate (-8 dS m-1) or slight (2-4 dS m-1)
Soil waterlogging tolerance: drainage may be sluggish at times
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen tree up to 10 m tall, usually produces a clear trunk
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Growth rate: fast or moderate
Coppicing ability: nil or negligible
Root system: moderate to deep or shallow and spreading
Erosion control potential: excellent for clayey sites
Windbreak potential: tolerates salty coastal winds
Wood density: mod. to high (greater than 600 kg/cubic metre)
Carbon sequestration potential: moderate to high
Uses
Potential farm use: good for fence posts or good ornamental attributes
Specialty products: flowers produce nectar for honey production, high tannin content in bark, leaves are a source of cineole
Urban use: good as an ornamental or amenity plant, ideal maintenance free street tree
Wildlife value: flowers are especially attractive to birds
Wood products: craftwood (for turnery etc.), high quality fuelwood, industrial charcoal(?), light construction, posts (including fencing)
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] Nicolle D, Brooker MIH (2005) Re-assessment of the saline-dwelling Eucalyptus spathulata complex (Myrtaceae) from southern Western Australia, Nuytsia 15: 403-430 

[4] 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]

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

[6] Chippendale GM (1973) Eucalypts of the Western Australian Goldfields (and the Adjacent Wheatbelt). (AGPS: Canberra).

Internet links

FloraBase Western Australian Herbarium: http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/browse/flora?f=273&level=s&id=5775

Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food: http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/content/lwe/salin/smeas/plant_salt_tolerance.htm

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