Eucalyptus fastigata

Brown Barrel

Family: Myrtaceae

Potentially a very tall tree, reaching 60 metres in some habitats. It has a sturdy straight trunk with fibrous-stringybark at the base, but does not form a lignotuber. The upper limbs have bare-smooth bark, white-to-grey with bark shedding in long ribbons.

It grows mainly in the NSW tablelands, but also occurs on the south coast. It extends from eastern Victoria, north along the NSW south coast and tablelands divisions, through the central coast and tablelands divisions, into the northern tablelands near Ebor. There is at least one record near Noosa in Queensland. It is found in wet sclerophyll forest, usually on soils of higher fertility – basalt and shale most commonly.

It forms a dominant component of many vegetation types in some areas, some of which can be quite scenic – such as wet sclerophyll forest on moist ground with basalt rocks and a moist fern, grass and forb ground layer. It is the dominant remnant tree scattered through Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens, one of the 3 government-botanic gardens of Sydney.

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, the juvenile foliage / coppicing growth is disjunct, ovate to elliptic and glossy green, to 12 cm long and 5 cm wide. The adult leaves are also disjunct, lanceolate to 15 cm long and to 3 cm wide, green and glossy and concolorous or can be discolorous. The leaves have very prominent venation which helps identification (the venation reminds this Editor of some wattle leaves).

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, the flower buds are arranged in leaf axils in umbellasters of 11 to 15. The umbellasters are paired in the leaf axils; a rare feature in eucalypts which aids identification. Mature buds are clavate (club-shaped) to 6 mm long and 3 mm wide with a conical and slightly-beaked operculum / calyptra. Flowers are white and occur between December and February.

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, the capsules are conical to pyriform (pear-shaped), to 8 mm long and 7 mm wide with valves usually rim-level to exserted.

In the garden

Not overly common in gardens and cultivation but they can be observed growing in lawns and gardens surrounding houses, as well as paddocks, in areas such as the southern highlands of NSW. They can be observed as a remnant road verge tree around Robertson, NSW. They can grow to be very large so not suited to small gardens. Very useful and attractive in large gully landscapes on higher fertility soils, as well as along creeklines. They can be very grandiose when large. Excellent specimen and shade tree in a larger landscape. There are very attractive trees in the lawn areas at Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens.

Eucalypts can suffer problems from, caterpillars, leaf eating beetles, psyllids and borers to name a few. In undisturbed conditions, the numbers of eucalypt-feeding insects and their predators and parasites are in balance, so that they rarely cause tree death and most trees quickly recover from attack. In a home situation nature can get out of balance.


Eucalyptus can be propagated by seeds which is most common method or grafting.
Cuttings are difficult to start, but can be used in some species.

Other information

Considered to appear very similar to the Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) – Australia’s tallest tree species.

Regenerates from seed after fire as well as epicormic shoots. 

Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as “eucalypts”, the others being Corymbia and Angophora.

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).

fastigata – this is reported to be a corruption of fastigiata which is Latin for “having spreading or erect branches which are almost parallel so as to create a column-like shape or appearance” (a horticultural term for such trees is “fastigiate”)

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

“Field Guide to Eucalypts Vol 1 South Eastern Australia’ M.I.H.Brooker and D.A.Kleinig. Blooming Books.

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

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

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.