Plant of the Month — February 2008
Eucalyptus lehmannii — Bushy Yate
February is the month in Western Australia when temperatures reach their zenith and so for our plant of the month we sought something cooling to the senses. This came in the form of Eucalyptus lehmannii, a small tree that blooms in creamy white, green and yellow, has blue-green leaves and is not only a source of food, but also a place of shade. This slender mallee grows in height to 7m and can be found in southern coastal and subcoastal areas from east of Albany towards Israelite Bay, including the Stirling Range.
Endemic to Western Australia, Eucalyptus lehmannii is an attractive tree with smooth bark in a combination of light pink, grey-brown and red; often having an accumulation of older bark at the base of the trunk. The buds of this eucalypt appear as a cluster of narrow, horn-shaped fingers, with a salmon-coloured operculum or bud cap; the fruits as dense heads of seed capsules, hanging conspicuously in the crown. Its soil preferences are wide and it grows among granite, laterite or sandstone outcrops, along creek beds and on hills and exposed slopes.
This species was first described by Johannes Conrad Schauer (1813–48), professor of botany at Greifswald, who published works on the myrtles of Western Australia. He named it Symphyomyrtus lehmannii. This name was later changed to Eucalyptus lehmannii by George Bentham in Flora Australiensis (1867). The genus name of Eucalyptus is derived from the Greek, eu well + calyptos covered, which refers to the operculum that covers the stamens in bud. The species was named in honour of Johann Georg Christian Lehmann (l792–1860), professor of botany at Hamburg, who was the editor of Plantae Preissianae (1844–47), a major early work on the flora of Western Australia, for which Schauer was one of several contributing authors.
Photo: M. Hislop