Knee-high eucalyptus discovered in SW Australia
Kew's Director has recently described two new species in his native Australia
22 Dec 2009
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.
“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.
More about Kew's discoveries...
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