Corymbia gummifera

Red Bloodwood

Family: Myrtaceae

A very common tree growing to 30 m tall, forming a lignotuber. It sometimes exists as a mallee and smaller tree on ridgetops.

It is found in coastal divisions, along the entirety of the NSW Coast, into Qld, north to about Bundaberg; in Victoria it is confined to the far-eastern area around Mallacoota and in East Gippsland.

It is very common in bushland on sandstone and sandy vegetation but is sometimes found on heavier soils. It forms a co-dominant part of coastal vegetation types such as dry sclerophyll forest and woodlands.

The bark is continuous and flaky / tessellated, brown, often with black burnt-looking patches and gum excretions.

The juvenile foliage / coppicing-growth is disjunct, lanceolate to broad-lanceolate, mid-green in colour, to about 17 cm long and 5 cm wide.

The adult leaves are also disjunct, mid-green, lanceolate (spear-shaped) to 16 cm long and 4 cm wide. Leaves are noticeably discolorous.

The primary inflorescence of “eucalypts” (Angophora / Corymbia / Eucalyptus) is an umbellaster (an umbel-like cluster of flowers). In Corymbia and Eucalyptus, the petals and sepals are fused into the distinctive calyptra (bud cap) which is shed when the flower opens. The calyptra / operculum is very short, hemispherical to conical. The conspicuous stamens give the flowers their appearance. In Corymbia species, umbellasters are typically produced, in clusters, at the terminals, beyond the foliage to create a very showy display. In this species, each flower is about 3 cm in diameter, creamy-white in colour,  observed in November to January.

The fruit is a capsule (commonly called “gumnut”) typically urn-shaped in most bloodwoods; to 20 mm long by 15 mm wide. The disc is deeply depressed and valves enclosed. The fruit make for easy identification.

In the garden

Corymbia gummifera is not overly common in cultivation, and exists more as remnant trees on rural blocks and residential backyards. However, it is an attractive tree or even mallee, that could be kept smaller if controlled.

Prefers a sandy soil but may tolerate a heavier soil. Great for sandstone gardens. The prolific cream flowers in summer are very attractive to bees and other insects.

Tolerates light frost, poor soils and drought. Trees live for over a hundred years.

The grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) browse on the flowers.

Can grow to a tree at least 10 m tall, so allow some room to grow, in plenty of light. However, it could be cut back periodically to create a mallee form. A nice specimen tree in a lawn or larger landscape.


From cutting as seed may not come true to form.
Best propagated from seed.

Other information

The only other bloodwood in the general area of occurrence of C. gummifera is C. eximia (Yellow Bloodwood) which differs by having firm tessellated rough bark predominantly yellow-brown, leaves are concolorous, buds with an operculum scar

Eucalyptus gummifera was transferred into the new genus Corymbia in 1995 when it was erected by Ken Hill and Lawrie Johnson. It is still seen under the earlier name in some published works.

Corymbia is a genus of about 115 species. It is reported that 110 of these are endemic to Australia, occurring in all states, except for Tasmania. 4 other species occur in Australia and New Guinea. 1 species is endemic to New Guinea. Previously, all Corymbia spp. were classified as Eucalyptus spp. A study showed that this group were more closely related to Angophora than Eucalyptus. The reclassification of these ‘eucalypts’ into Corymbia created much controversy in a wide range of circles (i.e., horticultural, botanical and political!). NSW currently has 10 species with 1 naturalised.

Regenerates by regrowing from epicormic buds and lignotubers after bushfire. It is thought in places like the Royal National Park, that the root systems of some patches must be 100s of years old as they continuously regenerate after fire.

Corymbia – from the Latin corymbium, meaning “corymb” (a raceme of flowers in which the peduncles of the lower flowers are longer than those of the upper flowers so that the inflorescence has an overall even-curved apex (similar to the appearance of a piece of broccoli or cauliflower).

gummifera – Latin for “producing gum” which refers to the sap or kino often observed on the trunk of this species.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online – Corymbia gummifera profile page                      https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Corymbia~gummifera

EUCLID – Eucalypts of Australia – Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research – Corymbia gummifera profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/entities/corymbia_gummifera.htm

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.


By Dan Clarke