Eucalyptus brandiana (Brand's mallet)
Brand's mallet is a rare and endangered ornamental Eucalyptus recently described from Fitzgerald River National Park in SW Australia.
About this species
Among the 900+ species of eucalypts in Australia, many are suited for ornamental horticulture, especially smaller species from western Australia with colourful flowers that attract birds and mammals as pollinators. Eucalyptus brandiana is such a species, small in comparison to most of Australia’s eucalypts, forming an erect mallet (a single-stemmed tree form of Eucalyptus) up to 5 m high with extraordinarily large leaves, flowers and fruits. This species was collected in southwest Australia in 2006 by the Director of Kew, Professor Stephen Hopper, and his colleague Luke Sweedman, and was named in 2009 after Grady Brand, Curator of Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth.
Geography & Distribution
Eucalyptus brandiana is found on spongolite hills and escarpments surrounding, and to the north of, the Fitzgerald Inlet on the south coast of southwest Western Australia.
Eucalyptus brandiana (Image: Stephen Hopper)
Eucalyptus brandiana is an erect mallet up to 5 m high. The leaves are confined to the upper terminal half of the stems and the bark is smooth, shiny and silver-grey with bronze strips when young, shedding in irregular strips. Mature leaves are green, glossy, oblong to oblong-lanceolate, robust, somewhat erect, and average 20.5 cm in length and 5.3 cm in width. There is a prominent midrib, conspicuous intramarginal veins and irregular intersectional oil glands.
The inflorescences are axillary and unbranched, comprising shortly-winged and down-curved flowering stems bearing single flowers. Flower stalks are absent. The buds are red, pendulous and square in cross section, shortly oblong and tapering towards the base, very prominently winged but otherwise smooth. The stamens are 15 mm long, inflexed and pink with a broadly pyramidal, red operculum (a cap that protects the stamens in the bud). Staminodes (sterile stamens) are present. The fruits average 6.5 cm long and 5.4 cm wide, are shortly oblong, tapering towards the base and very prominently winged. There are four enclosed valves. Seeds are dark brown, 4 mm x 3 mm x 1.5 mm, and flanged. Flowering is likely to peak in winter-spring.
Threats & Conservation
All known populations of Eucalyptus brandiana are located within the Fitzgerald River National Park and the habitat is therefore protected from development. However, this species is susceptible to damage from fire, as it lacks the ability to re-sprout from lignotubers, and wildfires therefore have the potential to render populations extinct.
This species has potential as an ornamental.
Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.
Description of seeds: Dark brown, 4 mm x 3 mm x 1.5 mm, flanged
Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: 1
Eucalyptus brandiana is established in Kings Park and Botanic Garden as an ornamental. Once seeds are available from these recently planted stocks, the species will be available more widely for horticultural use.
The discovery of new eucalypts
Greening Australia’s Nathan McQuoid who recently discovered a new population of E. brandiana growing with E. tetraptera (Image: Stephen Hopper, RBG Kew)
Two single-trunked small trees existed at the Fitzgerald River National Park ranger’s residences at Jacup and at East Mt Barren, planted by Head Ranger Chris Hart in the late 1980s from seed collected near Fitzgerald River Inlet. These trees were believed to be Eucalyptus tetraptera, but differed in being a non-lignotuberous mallet with atypically large flowers and fruits. A helicopter exploration of the inlet area in the early 1990s revealed a single stand of such mallets.
In September 2006, Kew’s Director Professor Stephen Hopper, Greening Australia’s Nathan McQuoid and Kings Park and Botanic Garden’s Luke Sweedman hiked upriver from the Fitzgerald Inlet track and confirmed that this small mallet was indeed a new species allied to E. tetraptera. More recently, Nathan McQuoid has discovered a new population of E. brandiana growing with E. tetraptera, with just a single hybrid, confirming that the two parental eucalypts are strongly isolated reproductively.
Professor Hopper and colleagues have named more than 100 new eucalypts from the Southwest Australian Floristic Region over the past three decades, ranging from tall forest trees to knee-high shrubs like E. sweedmaniana, another species published in Kew’s 250th anniversary year.
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