Eucalyptus drepanophylla F.Muell. ex Benth.
(Myrtaceae — the gum family)
common names: Grey Ironbark, Narrow-leafed Ironbark
The ironbarks get their name from the normally hard, grey to black, longitudinally furrowed, kino impregnated, rough bark on their trunks and large branches. The bark of this species is grey-black, with both pith and bark glands. The young leaves quickly become widely separated, and are lanceolate to ovate, straight, entire, dull grey-green, petiolate. The adult leaves become falcate, dull grey-green. The petioles are narrowly flattened or channelled. Lateral veins are obscure and acute.
The inflorescences are compound, terminal or axillary, with white or cream flowers. The fruits are hemispherical.
These trees are interspersed among the remnant mixed forests of the island’s coastal plains. I think it is the only ironbark found on the island.
Apart from one species, Eucalyptus jensenii which grows in the Top End of the Northern Territory and the central Kimberley Region of Western Australia, ironbarks are confined to the eastern mainland States. Several species grow tall and straight and have been used by the timber industry as millable logs and as poles for electrical wiring and street lighting. The timber is usually hard and in the past was sought by owners of combustion stoves, as the wood burned slowly and hot. A few species produce a colourful display of white to pink to red flowers and these have been widely used throughout eastern Australia in street plantings.
Although they are very easy to recognize as a group, the ironbarks are a very difficult group to identify to species and more work is required to elucidate the differences between the species. Intergradation and hybridization is common and this adds to the complexity of what is already a very complex group of plants.
The trees photographed are on the Forts walk, where they are quite common from the water tank area up to the sites of the old army buildings.
Photographs © Donald Simpson, taken on the Forts Walk 2008, 2009