1. Family: Myrtaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Eucalyptus L'Hér.
      1. Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh.

        Although river red gum is native, and restricted, to Australia it was first described from a cultivated plant growing in the garden of the Camaldoli religious order in Naples, Italy. This huge tree has a thick trunk and multicoloured bark, mixing grey, off-white and brown. The wood is brilliant red (hence the name red gum), but can range from pale pink to almost black in colour. There is much variation in the shape of the buds, which come into flower from December to February. This variation is seen throughout its wide distribution.

    Tree 20(–45) m tall with smooth bark.
    Juvenile leaves ovate to broadly lanceolate; adult lanceolate, 8–30 cm long, 0.7–2 cm wide; petiole terete or channelled, 1.2–1.5 cm long.
    Umbels 7–11-flowered; peduncle slender, terete or quadrangular, 0.6–1.5[2.5] cm long; pedicels slender, 0.5–1.2[1.4] cm long.
    Buds globular-rostrate or ovoid-conical; operculum hemispherical and rostrate to conical and obtuse, 4–6 mm long, 3–6 mm wide.
    Calyx-tube hemispherical, 2–3 mm long, 3–6 mm wide.
    Fruits hemispherical or ovoid, [4]5–8 mm long and wide with broad ascending disc and 3–5 exserted valves; seed yellow, smooth.
    Fig. 5/7, p. 30 & 11/1–2, p. 51.
    General Description
    River red gum is a beautiful tree found along river banks and in valleys in Australia.

    Although river red gum is native, and restricted, to Australia it was first described from a cultivated plant growing in the garden of the Camaldoli religious order in Naples, Italy. This huge tree has a thick trunk and multicoloured bark, mixing grey, off-white and brown. The wood is brilliant red (hence the name red gum), but can range from pale pink to almost black in colour. There is much variation in the shape of the buds, which come into flower from December to February. This variation is seen throughout its wide distribution.

    The beauty of river red gum caught the attention of Hans Heysen, a famous German painter who lived in Adelaide, Australia, painting eucalypts between the late 19th and early 20th century. Stan Kelly, a Victorian Railway driver, also dedicated a large part of his life to painting the eucalypts he 'admired the most', including river red gum. 

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    River red gum is widespread in south-eastern Australia and southern Queensland. It is also widely cultivated, mainly in Europe and Asia, but also in California (USA), British Guiana, Venezuela, Bolivia and Africa. 


    A medium-sized tree, generally growing up to 30 metres tall (but can sometimes become a large tree of up to 45 m), with a thick trunk covered with peeling bark. The smooth bark can be grey, pinkish grey, white or brown. The leaves are mostly alternate (one at each node), lance-shaped to narrowly so, 18–25 × 2 cm. The leaves are green or bluish green, usually the same colour on each side of the leaf, dull or glossy, with oil glands seen clearly. The inflorescence is axillary, with 7–11 white flowers with pedicels (flower stalks) of about 2.5 cm long. The buds have a scar, and the bud caps are strongly beaked or conical. The stamens (male parts of the flower) are inflexed (bent inward or downward) or erect. The fruit is hemispherical, 0.6 × 1 cm, and contains yellow to yellow-brown seeds with a terminal hilum (scar indicating the point of attachment).


    The timber of Eucalyptus camaldulensis is used in construction, parquet flooring and for railway sleepers. The dried wood makes an excellent source of fuelwood and charcoal, and because of the fast growth of the tree it has been introduced for this purpose to many arid and semi-arid parts of the world. The flowers are a good source of nectar for honey production. The essential oil from the leaves has been used medicinally for treating coughs and as a vermifuge. It has been found to have antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant activities, and has also been found to repel some species of mosquito.

    E. camaldulensis has been planted with some success to reclaim sand dunes and as a windbreak in parts of the Middle East. River red gum grows on a variety of soils, and occasionally along the borders of salt lakes. As a result, some provenances can grow on saline waterlogged soils of degraded irrigation schemes. However, because of water and nutrient competition it is not recommended to plan it alongside crops.

    The beauty of Eucalyptus camaldulensis, with its multicoloured bark, has inspired gardeners around the world to cultivate it, hence it is now a widely cultivated species, and reported as the most widespread of all eucalypts. Although suitable for parks and large gardens in tropical and warm temperate drylands, it is less suitable as a street tree in urban areas on account of the litter resulting from its peeling bark and dried, fallen leaves.

    Damage to Landscapes in South Africa

    Eucalyptus camaldulensis is one of several Eucalyptusspecies which is invasive in South Africa. Australia and South Africa share similar environmental conditions, and hence species that grow well in one are likely to do so in the other. River red gum, although in balance with other organisms in its native environment has caused much damage to South African landscapes where it has been introduced and become invasive. Long stretches of rivers and dam shores have been transformed by river red gum. It draws up a large amount of water from the ground, contributes to soil erosion and adversely affects nutrient cycling and soil properties.

    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 the seed bank vault.

    Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight = 2.4 gNumber of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank:SixSeed storage behaviour:Orthodox (the seeds of this plant survive being dried without significantly reducing their viability, and are therefore amenable to long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB)Germination testing:98% germination was achieved with: germination medium = 1% agar; germination conditions = 20°C, 8/16. 98% germination was achieved with: germination medium = 1% agar; germination conditions = 10°C, 8/16. 91% germination was achieved with: germination medium = 1% agar; germination conditions = 15°C, 8/16.

    River red gum at Kew

    Pressed and dried specimens of river red gum are held in the Herbarium, one of the behind-the-scenes areas of Kew. Thedetails, including images, of some of these can be seen in the online Herbarium Catalogue.

    View details and images of specimens

    Specimens of river red gum bark, oil, fruits, resin and wood are held in the behind-the-scenes Economic Botany Collection.

    Found along rivers and in valleys, but has also been recorded in arid and semi-arid areas of the Australian mainland. Sandy to heavy soils.
    Rated by IUCN as of Least Concern (LC).

    None known.

    Tall tree.
    Bark on upper part of bole smooth, dull white or ash-coloured, deciduous in long strips, at base of bole rough, blackish, exuding gum, flaking in plates c. 3–5 cm. in diam.
    Leaves up to 25 x 1·5 cm., narrowly lanceolate, falcate, apex narrowly acute.
    Umbels axillary, 5–10-flowered; peduncles 1–1·5 cm. long, terete; pedicels 0·5–0·7 cm. long, slender, longer than and sharply differentiated from the receptacle tube; flower-buds c. 0·8 x 0·5 cm., subglobose and rostrate; operculum markedly rostrate, 1·5–2 times as long as the receptacle.
    Fruit c. 0·7 x 0·7 cm., subglobose; valves usually 4, strongly exserted.



    Found In:

    New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia

    Introduced Into:

    Albania, Algeria, Andaman Is., Argentina Northeast, Ascension, Bangladesh, Benin, California, Cambodia, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Chad, China South-Central, China Southeast, Corse, Costa Rica, East Aegean Is., Easter Is., El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Free State, Gambia, Greece, Italy, Kenya, Leeward Is., Libya, Malawi, Mexico Southeast, Morocco, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Nicobar Is., Pakistan, Panamá, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Taiwan, Tanzania, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia

    Common Names

    River red gum

    Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    s.coll. [s.n.], South Australia K000279680 isosyntype
    Wentworth, W.C. [s.n.], New South Wales K000279684
    Wentworth, W.C. [s.n.], New South Wales K000279685

    First published in Cat. Horti Camald., ed. 2: 20 (1832), nom. cons.

    Accepted in:

    • [1] (2014) Edinburgh Journal of Botany 71: 275-285
    • [2] (2013) PhytoKeys 23: 1-18
    • [3] Dimpoulos, P., Raus, T., Bergmeier, E., Constantinidis, T., Iatrou, G., Kokkini, S., Strid, A., & Tzanoudakis, D. (2013) Vascular plants of Greece. An annotated checklist . Botanic gardens and botanical museum Berlin-Dahlem, Berlin and Hellenic botanical
    • [4] Mostaph, M.K. & Uddin, S.B. (2013) Dictionary of plant names of Bangladesh , Vasc. Pl.: 1-434. Janokalyan Prokashani, Chittagong, Bangladesh.
    • [5] (2012) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192
    • [6] (2009) Australian Systematic Botany 22: 257-285
    • [7] (2009) Flora Mesoamericana 4(1): 1-855. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F..
    • [8] (2009) Willdenowia 39: 165-177
    • [10] Govaerts, R., Sobral, N., Ashton, P., Barrie, F., Holst, B.K., Landrum, L.L., Matsumoto, K., Fernanda Mazine, F., Nic Lughadha, E., Proença, C. & al. (2008) World Checklist of Myrtaceae . Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [12] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [13] Fairhurst, W. (2004) Flowering Plants of Ascension island . Higham Press, Shirland, Alfreton, England.
    • [15] Govaerts, R. (2003) World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [21] MacKee, H.S. (1994) Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie , ed. 2: 1-164. Museum national d'histoire naturelle, Paris.
    • [23] Jones, M. (1991) A checklist of Gambian plants . Michael Jones, The Gambia College.


    • [9] (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500
    • [11] Chen, J. & Craven. L.A. (2007). Myrtaceae. In Flora of China, Volume 13: 321. Science Press, Beijing and Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis. Online at eFloras.org.
    • [14] Forsyth, G.G., Richardson, D.M., Brown, P.J. & Van Wilgen, B.W. (2004). Rapid assessment of the invasive status of Eucalyptus species in two South African provinces. South African Journal of Science, Vol. 100(1): 75-77.
    • [16] Doran, J.C. & Wongkaew, W. (2002). Eucalyptus camaldulensis. In Oyen, l.P.A. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (eds), Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. Precursor. (Associate Editors: Davis, S.D., Chauvet, M. & Siemonsma, J.S.). PROTA Programme, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Pp. 79-84.
    • [17] Holliday, I. & Watton, G. (2002). Gardener’s Companion to Eucalypts, 4th Edition: 56-57. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
    • [18] Dy Phon, P. (2000) Dictionnaire des plantes utilisées au Cambodge . Chez l'auteur, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
    • [19] (1995) Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 2(2): 1-456. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • [20] Brooker, I. & Kleinig, D.(1994). Field Guide to Eucalypts, Volume 3: 268. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
    • [22] (1991) Palmarum Hortus Francofurtensis 3: 1-108
    • [24] Bureau of Flora and Fauna (ed.) (1988). Flora of Australia, Volume 19 (Myrtaceae - Eucalyptus, Angophora). Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • [25] Brooker, I. & Kleinig, D.(1983). Field Guide to Eucalypts, Volume 1: 170. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
    • [26] Kelly, S. (1969) . Eucalypts. (Text by G.M. Chippendale & R.D. Johnston). Nelson, Melbourne.


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