Eucalyptus racemosa

Snappy Gum or Narrow-leaved Scribbly Gum

Family: Myrtaceae

A tree, growing to 20 m, forming a lignotuber. It grows in woodland and forest, sometimes in pure stands, on poor sandstone and sandy soils, in mid to high rainfall areas. It is found along the coast, tablelands and western slopes in NSW, from Bombala, extending north-west to Bathurst and west to Canberra (ACT), north to Gympie and Bundaberg in south-eastern Queensland.

Bark is smooth, mottled white, yellow, grey or cream-coloured with insect scribbles.

Young plants and coppice regrowth have dull blue-green, egg-shaped leaves to 170 mm long and petiolate.

Adult leaves are the same shade of blue-green on both sides, lance-shaped to curved or elliptic, to 200 mm long and to 15 mm wide on a petiole to 25 mm long.

The flower buds are arranged in leaf axils in groups (umbellasters) of eleven to fifteen; the individual buds on pedicels to 6 mm long. Mature buds are oval to 5 mm long and to 3 mm wide with a rounded or conical operculum or calyptra. Flowering mainly occurs from July to September and the flowers are white.

Capsules are woody, pyriform to ovoid, to 5 mm long and to 7 mm wide with the valves near rim level. The top of the capsule is usually maroon-red in colour.

The distinctive scribbles often found on the bark of this eucalypt are caused by the scribbly gum moth larvae, Ogmograptis scribula.

In the garden

A nice tree in an open native garden and it can also be grown as a mallee.

Can be a nice specimen tree in a lawn area with its trunks displaying shades of white, grey and yellow/dark-cream at times. It is fast growing and needs well drained soils. Needs an open position in full sun.

Authors note: This author purchased a seedling labelled E. haemastoma which only grows to 10 m and is ideal for the home garden. Unfortunately, the tree turned out to be E. racemosa which has smaller leaves and capsules. This plant now dominates my smallish backyard now 40 years after planting.

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

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

There have historically been 5 scribbly gum taxa recognised in NSW. Recent studies have lumped these taxa into 3 entities as follows:
Eucalyptus haemastoma
– Eucalyptus racemosa subsp. racemosa
– Eucalyptus racemosa subsp. rossii

However, this revision was not accepted by all herbaria. Genetic research still continues as the taxa are known to intergrade with likely hybridisation. Taxa may be lumped in the future. 

Regenerates very readily after fire from the lignotuber and epicormic shoots.

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).

racemosa – Latin meaning “having racemes”, which is a misnomer, as it does not have flowers in racemes. However, it has the appearance of such when in full flower

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 racemosa profile page 

EUCLID – Eucalypts of Australia – Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research – Eucalyptus racemosa subsp. racemosa profile page https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/entities/eucalyptus_racemosa_subsp._racemosa.htm

By Jeff Howes