Corymbia tessellaris

tessellated ghost gum


Corymbia tessellaris

(F.Muell.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson 1995

pronounced: kor-RIM-bee-uh tess-ell-AR-iss

(Myrtaceae — the gum family)

synonym — Eucalyptus tessellaris

F.Muell. 1859

pronounced: yoo-kuh-LIP-tuss tess-ell-AR-iss

common names: tessellated ghost gum, Moreton Bay ash, carbeen

native 4This fast-growing tree is the predominant ghost gum of Magnetic Island. It is a characteristic tree in eucalypt forest and associated woodlands on flat, deep soils of medium to high fertility. It has a rough, dark grey to black tessellated bark stocking on the lower section of the trunk (1–4 m), abruptly changing to whitish smooth bark that is sometimes powdery. It is widespread in north-eastern Australia north of Narrabri in New South Wales, over much of eastern Queensland from Charleville to the tip of Cape York Peninsula, where a tree of this species is the northernmost eucalypt on the Australian mainland. It also occurs on some of the Torres Strait Islands, and in southern New Guinea.

Corymbia is from the Greek κορυμβος (korymbos), cluster, referring to the way the plant bears the flowers.

The tree grows up to 35 m tall, forming a lignotuber. In juvenile growth (from coppicing or seedlings) the leaves are sessile or shortly petiolate and opposite for 7 – 11 nodes, and then alternate, lanceolate, 5 – 11 cm long, tapering to the petiole, dull, grey-green to green. The stems, petioles and midribs are setose for about the first 5 nodes. The adult leaves are narrow, alternate, lanceolate; leaves may be up to about 20 cm long, and as little as 1 cm wide, with a petiole 0.5 – 1.5 cm long. They are green to grey-green, pinnately veined, with the oil glands islands or obscure.

The inflorescences are axillary compound peduncles 0.2 – 0.7 cm long. There are 3 or 7 buds per umbel, with pedicels 0.1 – 0.4 cm long. The flowers are white.

The fresh fruiting capsules (gum nuts) are thin and can be easily squashed with the fingers, making this tree also known as one of the paper-fruited bloodwoods. The fruits are cylindrical or ovoid, more-or-less striate, 8 – 11 mm long, 6 – 8 mm wide. The seed is brown or reddish brown, 1.5 – 2.2 mm long, flattened or saucer-shaped.

This tree is resistant to strong winds, heat and drought, and will tolerate a moderate amount of salt spray.

The heartwood of this tree's timber is brown to dark chocolate brown, and the sapwood much paler, light brown or pinkish yellow. The grain of the timber is coarsely textured and variable; where the grain is wavy, an attractive fiddleback figure can be produced. It is a very durable timber, with an above-ground life expectancy of over 40 years, and an in-ground expectancy of over 25 years. Untreated sapwood is susceptible to lyctine borer attack, and the timber is resistant to termites. The sapwood readily accepts preservative treatment, and the timber can be dried by normal air and kiln methods. It is a very hard timber, but machines and dresses well due to its natural greasiness. It readily accepts paint, stains and polish. It is used as sawn and round timber in wharf and bridge construction, for mining timber and for railway sleepers. It has been much used in house building, especially as flooring. It is also used in the making of outdoor furniture, for turning and for joinery, and for coach and carriage building.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2008-2011
Page last updated 29th November 2018