Eucalyptus drepanophylla

grey ironbark


Eucalyptus drepanophylla

F.Muell. ex Benth. 1867

pronounced: yoo-kuh-LIP-tuss dreh-pan-oh-FY-luh

(Myrtaceae — the gum family)


common names: grey ironbark, narrow-leafed ironbark

native 4Eucalyptus comes from two Greek words, ευ (eu), good, and καλυπτος (kalyptos), covered, i.e., well-covered; drepanophylla comes from δρεπανη (drepané), a sickle, and φυλλον (phyllon), leaf, foliage, i.e. sickle-shaped leaves.

The ironbarks get their name from the normally hard, grey to black, longitudinally furrowed, kino impregnated, rough bark on their trunks and large branches. The bark of this species is grey-black, with both pith and bark glands. The young leaves quickly become widely separated, and are lanceolate to ovate, straight, entire, dull grey-green, petiolate. The adult leaves become falcate, dull grey-green. The petioles are narrowly flattened or channelled. Lateral veins are obscure and acute.

The inflorescences are compound, terminal or axillary, with white or cream flowers. The fruits are hemispherical.

These trees are interspersed among the remnant mixed forests of the island’s coastal plains. I think it is the only ironbark found on Magnetic Island.

Apart from one species, Eucalyptus jensenii, which grows in the Top End of the Northern Territory and the central Kimberley Region of Western Australia, ironbarks are confined to the eastern mainland States. Several species grow tall and straight and have been used by the timber industry as millable logs and as poles for electrical wiring and street lighting. The timber is usually hard and in the past was sought by owners of combustion stoves, as the wood burned slowly and hot. A few species produce a colourful display of white to pink to red flowers and these have been widely used throughout eastern Australia in street plantings.

Although they are very easy to recognize as a group, the ironbarks are a very difficult group to identify to species and more work is required to elucidate the differences between the species. Intergradation and hybridization is common and this adds to the complexity of what is already a very complex group of plants.

The heartwood of Eucalyptus drepanophylla ranges from reddish brown to dark brown. The sapwood is lighter in colour, and averages about 2 cm in width. The grain is tight, and usually straight. It is a very durable timber, and easily seasoned either by air or kiln methods. The wood is not susceptible to lyctid borer attack, and is resistant to termites. It is a very hard timber, difficult to work with hand tools. It is not easily machined either, because of its high density. The wood will readily accept paint, stain and polish. It is used as sawn and round timber in wharf and bridge construction, for railway sleepers, poles, piles and mining timbers. It is used as unseasoned timber in general house framing, and as seasoned, dressed timber in cladding, flooring, linings and joinery, as well as in fencing. It is also used in boat building (keel and framing components), and for coach, vehicle and carriage building. It has also been used in making such articles as croquet mallets, parallel bars, wheel spokes and bowling ninepins. Anecdotal evidence has it as the favourite timber for wooden-hulled vessels used for Antarctic exploration, because its strength and toughness gave the hulls high resistance to pack ice damage and crushing.

The trees photographed are on the Forts walk, where they are quite common from the water tank area up to the sites of the old army buildings.


Photographs taken on the Forts Walk 2008, 2009
Page last updated 24th December 2018