Eucalyptus curtisii

Plunkett Mallee

Family: Myrtaceae

Eucalyptus curtisii, Plunkett Mallee, is a small tree that reaches a height of about 7 metres (often seen smaller) with a spread of several metres wide.

It is endemic to Queensland, growing in the far south-east of the state around the Gold Coast and west of Toowoomba and Warwick (Inglewood), extending to north of Taroom and up the coast to west of Hervey Bay.

It grows in dry sclerophyll forest, woodland and shrubland, often on poorly drained soils. 

The bark is smooth, leaden grey to greenish-white and is shed in thin strips.

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, juvenile leaves are lanceolate to about 6 cm long and about 1 cm wide. Adult leaves are lanceolate, to falcate or narrow-elliptical, to about 15 cm long and 3.5 cm wide, glossy green on top and very different below – dull blue-green in colour. 

The primary inflorescence of “eucalypts” (Angophora / Corymbia / Eucalyptus) is an umbellaster (an umbel-like cluster of flowers). In the flowers of Corymbia and Eucalyptus, the petals and sepals are fused into the distinctive calyptra / operculum (bud cap) which is shed when the flower opens (in some species, 2 bud caps (opercula) are shed). The flowers are conspicuously staminate – where many stamens are basically taking over the role of the petals, all surrounding one central carpel. In this species, club-shaped buds, about 8 mm long, are carried in umbellasters of 7 which group secondarily into large clusters. White, showy flowers appear in spring and early summer. The buds have 4 small sepal-lobes or teeth present.

The fruit of eucalypts are a woody capsule (commonly called ‘gum nuts’) which come in a wide variety of shapes with the top part having a sunken, flat or raised disc and with the valves inserted, disc-level, exserted to strongly exserted. In this species, fruits are cup-shaped with a distinctive pedicel, to about 1 cm long and wide.

In the garden

Plunkett Mallee is a very ornamental small tree. Plants will often flower three years after planting. The blooms attract honeyeaters and various insects including native bees.

It is reportedly commonly cultivated and so plants may be able to be sourced, especially in Qld. Check with local native nurseries. 

Cultivated plants usually confine themselves to a single trunk.


Propagate from seed.

Other information

This species can likely regenerate after fire from the lignotuber and from any seed bank. 

It is well-known that Eucalyptus is a large and diverse genus. Between 700 and 950 known species are reported, occurring as far north as The Philippines, as well as Indonesia, New Guinea, Timor and Australia. Only 16 species reportedly occur outside Australia. They occur in all Australian states. NSW currently has about 250 species. (See this website for some detailed information: https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/intro/learn.htm).

Eucalyptus – from Greek, eu, “well” or “true” and calyptus, referring to the calyptra (καλύπτρo) or operculum, which is a bud cap or covering which covers the developing flowers. The calyptra is a fusion of petals and/or sepals and is shed when the flower opens, leaving a flower with many stamens (staminate) surrounding one female part (carpel).

curtisii – honours Densil Curtis (1893-1973) who was a farmer, naturalist and bushman, who collected the type specimen. The species was named in 1931 from material collected in sandstone hills near Plunkett (hence the common name), 53 kilometres southwest of Brisbane, Queensland. 

This species is listed as “near threatened” under Queensland legislation. 

EUCLID – Eucalypts of Australia – Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/entities/eucalyptus_curtisii.htm

Queensland Government – Eucalyptus curtisii species profile page          https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=17256

James Cook University – Australia. Eucalyptus curtisii profile page             https://www.jcu.edu.au/discover-nature-at-jcu/plants/plants-by-scientific-name2/eucalyptus-curtisii

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.