Eucalyptus sparsifolia

Narrow-leaf Stringybark

Family: Myrtaceae

A tree growing to a height of 20 metres.

It occurs solely in NSW, as far south as Yerrinbool (just north of Mittagong) and extends north into Sydney (mainly found in the north-western parts) then north-west through the Hunter Valley and to the Pilliga Scrub. It spreads up the North Coast to west of Port Macquarie. Several disjunct patches are known. 

It typically occurs in sandy or sandstone dry sclerophyll forest. 

The bark is grey to reddish brown and stringy. The canopy is typically narrow.

Eucalyptus spp. have simple and usually alternate adult leaves with juvenile leaves starting off opposite to alternate (disjunct). In this species, juvenile foliage / coppicing growth are glossy-green, hairy, broadly lance-shaped to 50 mm long, and to 4 mm wide. Stringybarks have conspicuous glandular / warty juvenile stems, giving them a rough texture (a useful identification feature).
Adult leaves are narrow lanceolate to falcate, the same glossy green on both sides, to 140 mm long and to 20 mm wide on a petiole to about 20 mm long.

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 flowers are arranged in umbellasters of mostly between nine and eighteen. The mature buds are green to yellowish, oval to spindle-shaped, 4 to 6 mm long and about 2 mm wide. The operculum / calyptra is cone-shaped with a beaked tip, shorter than or about as long and wide as the flower cup.
The stamens are white. Flowering mainly occurs from September to 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 a globe-shaped, slightly flattened, to 8 mm long and wide. In stringybarks, the capsules are produced in a tightly round structure.

In the garden

Not common in cultivation but can be observed on properties as remnant trees and could be incorporated into larger gardens and landscapes. Not suited to small backyards but could possibly be grown as a street tree or in a large yard. Suited to sandy soils, on ridgelines or upper slopes.

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. 

Other information

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

This species was formerly included with E. oblonga which included trees with a wide range of leaf widths. Those with broader leaves are now included in E. globoidea. It is very similar to Eucalyptus oblonga and historically, some botanists have not accepted any difference. The ‘stringybarks’ remain a difficult taxonomic group with identification often challenging. 

Regenerates readily after fire from epicormic growth and from the lignotuber.

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).

sparsifolia – is derived from Latin (“sparse-leaved”), referring to the narrow-leaves and open canopy of  the species

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 sparsifolia profile page

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


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