Trees of Australia Yate

The general term ‘Yate tree’ is applied to several Western Australian varieties of eucalypt. The Yate variety was the first Western Australian eucalypt to be described. It was collected at Observatory Island in 1792. 

One of the Yates is Eucalyptus cornuta. It is found in an area between Busselton and Albany. It grows in woodland or forest areas on loamy, gravely soils and is often found on or near granite outcrops. It is a large-crowned, broad-leafed, spreading tree.  It is an evergreen tree and may be any height from 2 to 25 metres depending on the conditions.  Under cultivation it is usually of medium to large size and can grow between 10 and 20 metres tall. The crown is dense with shiny leaves.  The leaves of young trees are round in shape but become lance-shaped in the adult tree. The furrowed bark is rough, dark and shaggy towards the base of the tree but higher up it is shed in long strips revealing a pale, smooth surface underneath. The clustered buds and fruit are very distinctive. The buds have long, horned cups and have no stalk. Clusters of fuzzy, yellow to green flowers appear between summer and winter. The flowers attract honey-eaters which help pollinate the flowers. 

The seed capsules have short projections or ‘horns’ and are clustered together. Eucalyptus cornuta is popular as a shade tree and is very adaptable to most soil types and moisture conditions. In former times, it was renowned as an exceptionally strong timber and was used for shafts and wagon wheels. 

Eucalyptus occidentalis is also known as the Swamp Yate, or sometimes the Flat-topped Yate.  It generally occurs in the southern wheat belt and south coastal areas of Western Australia.  It prefers low-lying areas. The bark is rough and grey on the trunk and lower branches but higher up the bark changes to smooth silvery-grey or yellow-grey. It is a fast-growing tree, reaching 6 metres in three years.  When mature, it may be 15 to 25 metres tall.  They are suited to heavy soil and will cope with soil that is poorly drained.  They are also salt tolerant.  The flowering season is from March to May and the flowers are pale yellow to cream in colour. 

Another variety of yate is Eucalyptus lehmannii or the ‘Bushy Yate’. This small, dense tree occurs naturally between Albany and Cape Arid on the south coast of Western Australia and is ideally suited for planting as a windbreak. It is bushy from the base of the trunk and has a dense, rounded form. The top is flat.  The oval leaves are 2 inch long and light green in colour. The leaves often turn red in summer.  The bright green flowers are very distinctive with fused clusters of finger-like buds. The buds may be 5cm long and resemble a mace and start off as curved horn-shaped buds and turn into round bunches of flowers about 4 inches in diameter. Large seed capsules develop and stay on the branches. It copes with arid conditions down to 250mm precipitation and is frost and salt tolerant. 

The foliage of most varieties of Yates has a strong, pungent methyl type odour. These trees usually grow easily from seed and are drought tolerant. Their main threat is die-back. The eucalyptus beetle also attacks the tree, eating oval-shaped holes in the leaves.