Eucalyptus resinifera

Red Mahogany, Red Messmate

Family: Myrtaceae

A tree, growing to 45 m high, forming a lignotuber.

It is found in coastal areas from Nowra in New South Wales to Gladstone in Queensland. It grows in forest on flats, valleys and gentle slopes, preferring soils of medium to high fertility but is also found on sandstone, especially in Sydney. It forms a co-dominance of many vegetation communities in NSW.

Bark is rough, stringy or fibrous, reddish brown in long strips on the trunk and branches. The bark persists to the branch tips.

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, juvenile / coppicing regrowth is dull green and lanceolate that are paler on the lower surface, to 160 mm long and to 45 mm wide. Adult leaves are arranged alternately, dark, glossy green on the upper surface, and much paler below, lanceolate, to 180 mm long and to about 40 mm wide, tapering to a petiole to 25 mm long and with a fine, long point. The leaves have prominent fine-parallel secondary venation (transverse) (a useful identification feature).

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, nine or eleven; the individual buds on pedicels to 8 mm long. Mature buds are oval to spindle-shaped, to 16 mm long and to 7 mm wide with a conical, horn-shaped or beaked operculum / calyptra (rostrate) (a useful identification feature). Flowers are white and occur in December.

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 capsule is hemispherical, conical or cup-shaped to 8 mm long and 6 to 10 mm wide with the valves protruding strongly (exserted) (a useful identification feature) when combined with all other above features.

In the garden

A nice specimen and tree. Has broad horizontal leaves which may make it a nice shade tree. Can be grown on sandy and other soils reliably.

Not suited to small residential gardens. Makes a nice tree in a large open space and or landscaped bed. (This Editor appreciates remnant street trees of this species, growing above the mangrove-vegetation across the road from my home at Sylvania. They provide excellent shade in summer and rarely drop any large branches).

A koala food tree. This species is one of 27 more common Eucalypt and Corymbia plants eaten by them.

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 are two recognised subspecies:
Eucalyptus resinifera subsp. resinifera
• Eucalyptus resinifera subsp. hemilampra
These differ in the length of the calyptra. The latter subspecies is only found on the North Coast of NSW.

The timber of red mahogany is well regarded for its high quality, being very hard and heavy, and having dark-red heartwood. It has multiple uses including flooring, panelling, cladding, boat building, railroad ties and general construction.

Plants regenerate from lignotuber and epicormic shoots after fire. Will also regenerate from seed.

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).

resinifera – from Latin resiniferus meaning “resin-bearing”. However, botanists have noted it does not produce much resin compared to other eucalypts.

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

Field Guide to EucalyptsVol 1 South Eastern Australia – M.I.H.Brooker and D.A.Kleining. Blooming Books.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Eucalyptus resinifera profile page

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

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