Corymbia papuana

ghost gum


Corymbia papuana

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

pronounced: kor-RIM-bee-uh pa-pu-AH-nuh

(Myrtaceae — the gum family)

synonym — Eucalyptus papuana

F.Muell. 1875

pronounced: yoo-kah-LIP-tss pa-pu-AH-nuh

common name: ghost gum

native 4Corymbia is from the Greek κορυμβος (korymbos), a cluster, referring to the way the plant bears its flowers; papuana is botanical Latin for ‘from Papua’. Ferdinand von Mueller described the species on the Papua New Guinea mainland opposite Yule Island. This lovely ghost gum occurs in southern Papua New Guinea, southern West Papua, Daru Island in Torres Strait, and in North Queensland, as far south as about 27º. It is usually found in savannah woodlands on flat or slightly rising ground. The trees pictured are in Horseshoe Bay.

Historically, most smooth-barked ghost gums in central and northern Australia have been called Eucalyptus papuana. When Hill and Johnson revised the ghost gums and the bloodwoods in 1995, they retained the ‘papuana’ specific for those found in southern New Guinea, and gave a new name of Corymbia paracolpica to those found in Queensland. This never really caught on, and Kew gives Corymbia paracolpica as a synonym of C. papuana.

The growth habit of this tree is strongly straight and upright, and it can grow up to 40 m in height, with the trunk up to 100 cm in diameter. The bark is smooth throughout, white to creamy white, sometimes with a stocking of more-or-less tessellated to scaly rough bark for up to about 70 cm from the base.

The leaves are alternate, with petioles up to 2.5 cm long; blades are lanceolate, up to about 20 cm long, undulate or flat, the base tapering to the petiole; the margin is entire, the apex pointed, the blade dark green in colour, the oil glands not visible.

The inflorescences are axillary, the flowers creamy white and perfumed, with peduncles variable within an inflorescence (2 – 10 mm long).

The fruits are urn-shaped, up to a centimetre or a little more in length, and thin-walled, with the valves enclosed. The seeds are brown, 3 or 4 mm wide, flattened or saucer-shaped, and smooth.

The sapwood of its timber is narrow and pale, the heartwood a dark red-brown, and not very hard. It is used in house construction, often as steps, and window and door sills, stair rails, and flooring. It is also used for fence posts.

The Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira frequently included these trees in his paintings.


Photographs taken in Horseshoe Bay 2015
Page last updated 28th November 2018