Eucalyptus quadrangulata

White-topped Box or Coast White Box

Family: Myrtaceae

A large tree, growing to a height of 45 to 50 m, forming a lignotuber.

It is naturally found on the slopes and edges on the eastern side of the Northern and Central Tablelands in New South Wales, between Dorrigo and Scone in the north to Bundanoon and Milton in the south. There is also a disjunct population near Cunninghams Gap in south-eastern Queensland. It has a distribution of two disjunct clusters in NSW. Common around localities such as Mittagong / Bowral and Kangaroo Valley. Usually found on shale and basalt soils, occasionally on sandstone.

Bark is rough (box-type), greyish brown, finely tessellated / fibrous or flaky bark on the trunk and branches. Upper branches bare.

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, young plants and coppice regrowth consists of stems that are square in cross-section and leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs and sessile with their bases surrounding the stem, lanceolate and paler on the lower surface, to 150 mm long and to 35 mm wide.
Adult leaves are the same shade of glossy green on both sides, lance-shaped to curved, to 190 mm long and to 22 mm wide, tapering to a petiole up to 25 mm long. The leaf margins often have a distinctive stepped-pattern which aids identification enormously.

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, the individual buds usually sessile. Mature buds are oval to spindle-shaped to 7 mm long and about 3 mm wide with a conical operculum/ calyptra.
Flowers are white and occur from February 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, the capsules are conical to 5 mm long and to 6 mm wide with the valves exserted.

In the garden

A potentially very large tree and some grandiose specimens can be found in places such as the Southern Highlands of NSW where they can grow to at least 45 m tall (This Editor’s photo is from a farm in the Bowral-Mittagong area).

Does well in a paddock or open large garden. Has a nice form and structure. Not suited to small-medium-sized residential gardens.

The leaves have a unique appearance with their stepped margins. Would make a nice specimen tree.

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

This species can regenerate after fire from the lignotuber as well as epicormic shoots and any seed bank. 

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).

quadrangulata – Latin, 4-angled, (quadrangle) – referring to the cross-section of the branchlets.

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

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

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

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

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