Corymbia maculata

Spotted Gum

Family: Myrtaceae

Corymbia maculata, the Spotted Gum, is a medium to tall tree, potentially reaching 50 m in height. usually with a solitary trunk.

It has a mostly coastal distribution in NSW, extending between both southern and northern borders, growing very close to the water in some areas and extending into the Hunter Valley. It extends into Queensland, growing northwards to the Taroom and Monto areas. It is reportedly only known naturally in one area in the east of Victoria, south of Buchan. But, has been planted elsewhere. It is listed as threatened with extinction in Victoria.

It typically forms part of dry sclerophyll woodlands – of various communities and also grows in wet sclerophyll forests. It typically occurs on heavier soils such as clay / shale based and volcanic.

The bark is smooth, cream to dark grey or bluish and has a spotted or blotched appearance.

Juvenile leaves are somewhat disjunct and glossy green.

Adult leaves are lanceolate, dark to mid-green and rather shiny on both surfaces with prominent venation, to about 20 cm long and 4 cm wide.

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 / operculum (bud cap) which is shed when the flower opens. The umbellasters are clustered into terminal panicles or corymb-like groups, produced beyond the leaves. The conspicuous stamens give the flowers their appearance. In this species, flowers are formed in groups of 3.  Each flower is about 2 cm across, white to cream in colour; mature buds are oval to pear-shaped, to 10 mm long and to 7 mm wide with a rounded or beaked operculum. Flowering occurs in most months and peak in Spring.

The fruit is a capsule (“gum-nut”). Corymbia have strongly urceolate capsules with deeply inserted valves and a sunken disc. In this species, they are 14 mm long and to 11 mm wide.

In the garden

Corymbia maculata is a very ornamental tree but be warned. This species is too large for suburban gardens. The Spotted Gum could be grown on rural properties or in parks.

It is sued to good effect in a copse in a lot of park and urban landscapes. Trees tend to grow uniformly and match each other for spped of growth.

The specimen, in our cold climate garden (near Armidale), is over 15 years old and has reached a height of ten metres. Even in our frosty climate C. maculata has survived and thrived. The tree flowers prolifically every year.


Propagate from seed.

Other information

Spotted Gum timber has many uses. It is hard, very tough and used for construction, fibreboard and plywood. The flowers produce good quality pollen for bees and honeyeaters are attracted to the blooms. The leaves are eaten by koalas.

The species was described by W. J. Hooker (as Eucalyptus maculata) in 1844 from material collected in the Hunter Valley of NSW. The thumbnail image is the drawing that accompanied the 1844 description.

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.

This species will regenerate after bushfire by epicormic shoots and lignotuber, as well as seed.

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).

maculata – Latin meaning “spotted” – for the spotted nature of the trunks.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild in NSW. Natural populations are listed as threatened with extinction in Victoria.

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

EUCLID – Eucalypts of Australia – Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research – Corymbia maculata profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/entities/corymbia_maculata.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 Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.