Eucalyptus preissiana

Bell-fruited mallee

Family: Myrtaceae

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).

It has ‘mallee’ habit, that is, multi-trunks arising from a lignotuber and has only grown to 1.5 metres high by the same width. In the wild, it grows to 2 to 3 metres in height by a similar width.

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.

The bark is smooth and the leaves are broadly oval shape, tapering to a point – they are about 120 mm long by 50 mm wide. The new leaves are an attractive light green colour that matures to a grey/mauve colour. The large, yellow flowers in October are 30 mm or more in diameter. This is followed by attractive bell shaped capsules (gum nuts).

In the garden

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. 

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