Eucalyptus preissiana

Bell-fruited mallee

Family: Myrtaceae

A small eucalypt, potentially growing to 5 metres tall and a few metres wide, with a mallee habit. 

It is endemic to Western Australia, growing close to the south coast motsly between Albany and Esperance and extending about 200 km inland. 

It grows in coastal heathlands and shrublands anf forms part of mallee woodlands, usually on sandy or gravelly soils. 

The bark is smooth.

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, juvenile leaves are grey-green to glaucous, (they can start of light green and mature to grey-mauve); to 9.5 cm long and about 6.5 cm wide, elliptic to ovate. Adult leaves are broadly oval, tapering to a point, about 120 mm long by 50 mm wide.

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 large, yellow flowers are 30 mm or more in diameter and produced in umbellasters of 3s. The preceeding buds are attractive, ovoid to about 2.5 cm long and 2 cm wide, green with a red and slightly raised-rounded operculum.

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, they are bell-shaped capsules, to 3 cm long and 4 cm wide.

In the garden

Author’s notes:

In my northern Sydney’s suburbs garden, I planted Eucalyptus preissiana ten years ago, after bringing it back from Western Australia (with a quarantine clearance).

I am growing it in a position that receives nearly full sun in a thin layer of soil over a clay base. Not the ideal position, as it grows naturally on sand and gravel based soils on the coastal strip from Albany to Esperance in South-west Western Australia. Some years, I have very few flowers and this is because the plant is too dry. In years with a wetter winter, it rewards me with many stunning yellow flowers in Spring. It can be difficult to maintain in tropical and sub-tropical areas due to summer humidity. However, the older the plant gets the better it copes with Sydney’s summer humidity.

Maintenance: The only problems I have some years is white scale forming on the leaves, which are easily scraped off. As it has a lignotuber, it responds to hard pruning to near ground level if rejuvenation is required. I had great success doing this recently to a five year old E. olivacea ‘Lorikeet’ resulting in a mass of new growth from the lignotuber.

Every garden should have a small Eucalypt growing as they are the icon of the Australian landscape.


Propagation is from seed as Eucalyptus species generally produce copious quantities of seed annually. However fruits may take a year to mature after flowering.

Other information

This species can likley regenerate from the lignotuber after fire as well as any seedbank. 

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).

preissiana – named for botanical collector Johann August Ludwig Preiss (1811-1883) – a German born British botanist. Preiss reportedly collected an amazing 200,000 plants specimens from 1838-1842 in Western Australia and has about 100 plants named after him.  

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

Government of Western Australia – Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority – Eucalyptus preissiana profile page                                                                                                          https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/about-us/information/our-plants/plants-in-focus/2418-eucalyptus-preissiana

Florabase – the Western Australian Flora – Western Australian Herbarium – Eucalyptus preissiana profile page                                                                        https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/5751

Aussie Green Thumb – Eucalyptus preissiana – Growing and Care Guide Australia https://aussiegreenthumb.com/eucalyptus-preissiana/

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 Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.