Eucalyptus signata

Scribbly Gum

Family: Myrtaceae

A tree growing to 25 metres tall, forming a lignotuber.

It grows in dry sclerophyll forests or swampy areas at low altitude, on sandy soils or sandstone. Occurring from northern Sydney up the New South Wales coast and northern tablelands to beyond the Queensland border.

Bark is smooth, with scribbles, white or yellow, shedding in short ribbons. The bark is typical of the scribbly gum, being blotchy white with scribbles caused by the scribbly gum moths.

Juvenile leaves / coppicing growth are/is disjunct, broad-lanceolate, dull grey-green.
Adult leaves are disjunct, lanceolate, to 14 cm long and to 3 cm wide, green to blue-green.

Flowers are in a cluster (umbellaster) of around 11 or more. Mature buds are ovoid or clavate (a 3-dimensional shape; club shaped; thickened at one end) to 6 mm long to 4 mm in diameter. Flowering generally between July and September

The capsule is hemispherical, or pyriform (having the form of a pear) 4 to 7 mm long and 4 to 7 mm diameter. 

In the garden

Not overly common in cultivation. It would be a useful tree in an open ridge-top or garden on a hill, especially on sandy soils. Can grow to over 20 metres so not suited to small gardens. Attractive tree in a sunny open landscape. It does not grow all that large – especially if planted in shallow soils. Lends to bushy landscapes with its white bark.  

A primary Koala tree in its natural range. 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. 

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 continues as the taxa are known to intergrade with likely hybridisation. Some taxa may be lumped in the future. 

Regenerates readily from fire, from lignotuber and epicormic shoots. Can also regenerate from seed.

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).

signata – from the Latin signatus, meaning ‘marked’ – likely referring to the scribbles on the trunk.

This species is not know 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 signata profile page              https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~signata

EUCLID – Eucalypts of Australia – Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research – Eucalyptus racemosa subsp. racemosa profile page.                                          https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~racemosa

By Jeff Howes, edited Dan Clarke