Plant of the Month: What’s in the Box?

Flora, Latest Newsletter, Plant Nerd, Plant of the Month, The Scoop

This month I’m back to our rather slow series of keys to the Eucalypts of the Hunter. if you’ve missed (or forgotten) I’ve previously done keys to Ironbarks, Scribbly Gums, Mallees, Bloodwoods (Corymbia) and the Apples (Angophora).

This month we’re looking at the Boxes, so named because their short fibrous bark is reminiscent of the European Box (Buxus), most of the boxes occur in the upper Hunter with only the Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) and Rudder’s Box (E. rudderi) finding it’s way to the lower Hunter.

As with most things related to the natural world there are some exceptions, Slaty Box has a smooth bark and is not included here and Yellow Box can be quite variable. Bimble Box (Eucalyptus populnea) is also not included as I’ve only been able to find two specimens (a mature tree Wybong and a sapling at Gungal) and has only been collected twice from the Hunter, once in a planting and once by JL Boorman in 1904.

Differentiation between White and Grey Box in the Upper Hunter is a source of constant frustration for many of us, I generally find Murrurundi to Moonan Flat it’s usually White Box, east of Denman Grey Box and the Merriwa plateau is often hybrids (there’s also a lot of Fuzzy Box around Merriwa to Martindale). 

1 Inflorescences simple                                                                                          2

1* Inflorescences compound                                                                                5

2 Fruits with 5-7 valves, bark yellowish “sock” on lower trunk, sometimes “twisted” around trunk, adult leaves 6-14cm long 0.8-1.8cm wide, concolorous, operculum short, rounded with prominent peak. Tree to 30m, bark highly variable, prefers moist fertile soils often in riparian or in higher altitude areas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Eucalyptus melliodora

                                                                                                                Yellow Box

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Eucalyptus melliodora fruit and buds

2* Not as above                                                                                                         3

3 Peduncle terete to slightly angular, tree to 20m, leaves 12-20cm long, 1.5-2.5cm wide, pedicels terete.          Tree to 20m, bark persistent on trunk and larger branches, smooth grey above shedding in short ribbons, grassy woodland on drier sites. West of Merriwa and North of Scone.

                                                                                                                        Eucalyptus bridgesiana

                                                                                                           Apple Box

3* Not as above                                                                                                         4

4 Bark persistent on trunk, and branches, adult leaves 15-30cm long (to 50cm + in Timor area) 1.5-3cm wide (wider in Timor area), grey green/glaucous, umbellasters 7 flowered, peduncle flattened or angular, buds sessile. Tree to 15m.                                                  Eucalyptus nortonii

                                                                                                           Bundy