Corymbia ptychocarpa  (F.Muell.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson 1995 ssp. ptychocarpa

pronounced: kor-RIM-bee-uh TY-koh-KAR-puh subspecies TY-koh-KAR-puh

(Myrtaceae – the gum family)

synonym: Eucalyptus ptychocarpa  F. Muell 1859

pronounced: yoo-kuh-LIP-tuss TY-koh-KAR-puh

common names:  Swamp Bloodwood, Spring Bloodwood

Corymbia corymbia ptychocarpacorymbia ptychocarpa flowersis from the Greek κορυμβος (korymbos), a cluster, referring to the way the flowers are clustered at the ends of the branches; ptychocarpa is also from the Greek, πτυχη (ptyché), a fold, leaf or plate, and καρπος (karpos), fruit, referring to the ribs on the fruits.

This species bears masses of showy large (7 cm) flowers that are usually pink or red, although white ones occur on some trees. The Swamp Bloodwood has some of the largest leaves among the eucalypts, and also some of the largest gumnuts. It is a very showy tree, and attracts masses of birds. The tree photographed is in Nelly Bay, near the junction of Kelly and Warboys Streets. The species’ natural distribution is in the gallery forests of the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and the northern area of the Northern Territory, extending across to Doomadgee in far north-western Queensland, in open forest on stream banks and moist areas.

corymbia ptychocarpa flowerscorymbia ptychocarpa green capsulesSwamp Bloodwood is a small tree usually growing to between 4 and 8 m high, but able to reach 15 m in height. It is not a particularly well-formed tree, and tends to droop, especially when young. It is grown as an ornamental and a street tree on the east coast of Queensland, and down into northern NSW. It is very commonly grown in Brisbane, and is much used as a street tree in Cairns. It is fast-growing, and its roots are non-invasive. It will grow in sandy, loamy, or even acidic soil, so long as the soil is well-drained, and it prefers full sun. It will usually resist light frosts, pollution such as emitted by car exhausts, and coastal exposure to salt air.

corymbia ptychocarpa capsulesThe lanceolate, leathery leaves are up to 30 cm long and 7 cm wide. The midrib is pale yellow, contrasting with the green lamina. The lateral veins are almost parallel to each other.

The large flowers, as mentioned earlier, come in various colours from white through pink to crimson, although pink is the most common colour. They normally occur as umbels of up to 7 flowers on the outside of the tree, in late summer to autumn; but in the tropics a few flowers may occur in any month of the year.

The flowers are followed by large woody seed capsules, about 4 cm lung and 3 cm wide. These capsules are very popular in dried flower arrangements. The tree is easily grown from seed, unless a particular colour form is required, when grafting is necessary.

There is another subspecies, Corymbia ptychocarpa ssp. aptycha. It is a very similar tree, but the fruits lack the longitudinal ribbing of ssp. ptychocarpa. This subspecies is restricted to the Top End of the Northern Territory from Coberg Peninsular east to Yirrkala and south to El Sharana. Aptycha, from the Greek, simply means 'no fold', referring to the lack of ribs on the fruits.

Photographs © Donald Simpson, taken in Nelly Bay 2010

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