Eucalyptus punctata

Grey Gum

Family: Myrtaceae

A large tree, growing to a height of 35 m, with a lignotuber. It is a gum – meaning it has smooth-bark for most or all of its length. The bark can display vivid shades of grey, white and salmon-orange at different times of the year.

It occurs through the coast and tablelands subdivisions, extending into the western slopes, and near from as far north as Gympie in Queensland, to near Nowra in New South Wales, most commonly on transition zone soil types between sandstone and shale and other rocky substrates. It forms a dominant component of many vegetation communities in NSW. 

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, juvenile leaves are opposite for the early pairs and then alternate, ovate to lanceolate, to about 12 cm long and about 4 cm wide, dull green and paler on lower surface. Adult leaves are glossy dark green, paler on the lower surface, lanceolate or falcate to ovate, to 180 mm long and to about 35 mm wide, tapering to a petiole up to about 25 mm long.

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 seven; the individual buds on pedicels 2 to 8 mm long. Mature buds are oval to about 1 cm long and wide with a conical to rounded operculum / calyptra. Flowers are white and occur from December to March.

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, capsules are woody, cup-shaped or hemispherical, to 9 mm long and about 10 mm wide with exserted valves.

In the garden

An easy to grow tree, not overly large but can reach 15 metres or more in a garden. Suited to large-open gardens and parks. Not suited to small residential gardens. Mature trees can display really nice shades of bark on the trunk including salmon-orange at times.

A Koala food tree. This species is one of 27 more common Eucalypt and Corymbia plants eaten by them. The grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) eats the flowers.

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. For further information refer to: http://anpsa.org.au/APOL2007/sep07-s1.html

Other information

The timber is very hard and durable, and used in construction and for railway sleepers.

The grey gum regenerates by regrowing from the base and branches after bushfire, through epicormic shoots and buds.

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).

punctata – from the Latin adjective punctatus meaning “spotted” and refers to the oil glands, which give the leaves a dotted appearance.

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 punctata profile page       https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~punctata 

Wikipedia – Eucalyptus punctata profile page                   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus_punctata

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.