Knee-high eucalyptus discovered in SW Australia

Kew's Director has recently described two new species in his native Australia

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22 Dec 2009

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Eucalyptus sweedmaniana

Eucalyptus sweedmaniana in its native habitat, pictured with Luke Sweedman, after whom it is named

To many British gardeners the eucalyptus is a fast growing monster; casting shade and debris… usually in the neighbour’s garden. In Australia, however, the over 900 species of eucalypts are integral to the landscape and culture and come in all shapes and sizes. It seems fitting, therefore, that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Director, Professor Stephen Hopper, an Australian himself, has recently described two fantastic new species in southwest Australia.

Eucalyptus brandiana

“You might expect that the plants of Australia are already well-known, but these kinds of finds are far from unusual, especially in the southwest”

Professor Stephen Hopper, Director, RBG Kew

Professor Hopper discovered Eucalyptus sweedmaniana with his colleague Luke Sweedman, after whom he named the plant. It is a dwarf in comparison to most eucalyptus species, forming a low-growing mallee (shrub) around 1m high. It survives the bush fires that are common in the area by dying back to a woody underground rootstock, known as a lignotuber, from which it can resprout later.

The second new species (Eucalyptus brandiana, right), although larger than E. sweedmaniana, isn’t so lucky; it lacks a lignotuber and is killed by fire. Both species are known from just a few hundred plants each and are in need of conservation. However, both have potential as ornamentals in Australia (and perhaps elsewhere), which could provide a welcome backup plan to secure their futures.

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1 comment on 'Knee-high eucalyptus discovered in SW Australia'

Esther Madrid says

07/03/2010 12:00:00 AM | Report abuse

is really exciting when samebody find a new specie at this time when everybody think we kwon all araund! is just a pity that when the discover is made you realice the plant is on danger,might be could be good try to find out same more areas with the same conditions to try to check out more interesting and undangered organisims to give them a protection at their own ecosytems. by the way congratulations!!!


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