There are literally hundreds of eucalyptus species, around 800 in fact. Most are endemic to Australia with a few found in New Guinea and south-east Indonesia. Most become massive trees but there are also a number that are classed as shrubs. Many of these are very decorative and very adaptable. Many of the multi-stemmed shrubs go by the common name of ‘mallee’. The eucalypts have aromatic leaves which are dotted with oil glands.
Eucalyptus angustissima is one of the mallees. Its common name is narrow-leafed mallee and it grows to 3 metres. It is endemic to the south coastal region of Western Australia. It is a multi-stemmed mallee with small, narrow, pale green leaves. It produced a profuse display of small creamy white flowers from winter through to mid-summer.
Also from Western Australia but from the wheatbelt area is Eucalyptus burracoppinensis or Burracoppin mallee which grows to 6 metres. It is a dense, spreading mallee with the lower part of the trunk covered with rough bark. The branches are a pretty contrast being smooth and grey. The leaves are narrow and light green and ribbed buds open to pale yellow flowers in winter through to spring.
From Mount Barren Range in southern Western Australia comes Burdett’s gum or Eucalyptus burdettiana. It has smooth green-brown to light brown bark and glossy dark green leaves. The green buds have long warty caps. Yellowish green flowers appear from winter to spring. Both the Burracoppin mallee and Burdett’s gum are favourites with bird species.
Deemed to have the largest flowers and capsules of any eucalypt is Eucalyptus macrocarpa or mottlecah. This is found only in a limited area near the Western Australian southern coast. The stems, new bark and buds are a powdery grey. The mature leaves are thickly-textured and a silvery-grey. The showy deep pink to red flowers are about 8cm wide and appear from late winter to spring. The flowers are followed by woody capsules which are 10cm wide.
One of the relatively rare eucalypt species is Eucalytpus desmondensis or Desmond mallee which is endemic to Mount Desmond near Ravensthorpe in Western Australia. It is a slender mallee with short, smooth, powdery white or grey persistent bark at the base of stems. The branchlets are of a weeping habit and an attractive silvery colour. In late summer clusters of reddish brown bods open to reveal pale yellow flowers.
From the other side of the continent comes the Blue Mountain mallee or Eucalyptus stricta. This is a good choice for smaller gardens and favours shallow sandy soils. It can be slow-growing. It is an erect mallee with straight stems and smooth white to grey bark. The mature leaves are narrow, erect and glossy. There is a prolific display of creamy white flowers in summer and autumn.
The red bud mallee (Eucalyptus pachyphylla) grows to 4.5 metres and is a favourite with birds. It is named for the red ribbed buds which open to display conspicuous pale yellow flowers in winter through to spring. It is native to central Australia, generally north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It may have single or multiple trunks. The smooth grey bark peels off in longs strips. The leathery leaves are broad and grey-green. This is a good choice for hot dry regions provided there is no summer humidity.
The Dowerin rose or pear-fruited mallee (Eucalyptus pyriformis) has very attractive, ornamental , ribbed, pear-shaped buds. The buds open to weeping red, yellow or creamy flowers which appear from winter to spring. The flowers are followed by large decorative seed capsules. It has smooth grey bark and thick-textured grey-green leaves.
These are just a few of the many attractive smaller eucalypts. Your nurseryman or garden centre will be able to suggest other stunning varieties.