Eucalyptus rubida

Candlebark, Ribbon Gum or White Gum

Family: Myrtaceae

A tree, growing to 40 m high in woodland and forest, usually in shallow soils on tablelands, hills and slopes in cold areas. It forms a lignotuber. It grows mainly on the tablelands of NSW, growing just into the western slopes, into Victoria and Tasmania.

Bark is smooth, powdery, greyish or pink and is shed in long ribbons but there is sometimes persistent fibrous bark near the base of the trunk.

Juvenile/coppicing leaves is sessile, glaucous, more or less round leaves, 20 to 60 mm wide, arranged in opposite pairs.

This growth is a useful identification feature.

Adult leaves are arranged alternately, lance-shaped to curved, to 175 mm long and to 35 mm wide, tapering to a petiole to 35 mm long.

The flower buds are arranged in leaf axils in groups (umbellasters) of 3 to 7 (when in 3s – they are another useful identification feature), up to 9 mm long and to 5 mm wide with a conical to rounded operculum/ calyptra. Flowering mainly occurs from December to April and the flowers are white.

The fruit is a capsule, hemispherical or bell-shaped to 6 mm long and 8 mm wide with the valves near rim level or protruding slightly.

In the garden

Moderate to fast growing ornamental tree adaptable to most well drained soils. Not overly common in cultivation but lends itself to large or open gardens located in cold areas on the tablelands. It can grow in sandy soils but will also tolerate heavier soils. Would do well in ridge-top and upper slope gardens in full sun. Not recommended for small residential gardens. The trunk can also exhibit interesting hues / shades through the year.

When flowering, trees are sought out for honey production.

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.


Eucalypts 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 three subspecies currently recognised in NSW:
Eucalyptus rubida subsp. rubida
– Eucalyptus rubida subsp. barbigerorum
– Eucalyptus rubida subsp. septemflora

The subspecies barbigerorum is listed as threatened with extinction and classified as “vulnerable” at the State and Commonwealth level.
The subspecies septemflora is confined to the southern tablelands and has umbellasters of 7 flower-buds (hence the name).

This species regenerates readily form the lignotuber and epicormic shoots after fire. 

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).

rubida – from the Latin word rubidus meaning “red”, referring to the seasonally reddish bark.

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 rubida profile page

EUCLID – Eucalypts of Australia – Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research – Eucalyptus rubida profile page                https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/entities/eucalyptus_rubida_subsp._rubida.htm

By Jeff Howes