Eucalyptus morrisbyi: First time blooming in the UK


Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden of Plants, by Tom Hart Dyke / Castillo de Lullingstone y El Jardín del Mundo, por Tom Hart Dyke / Eucalyptus morrisbyi in bloom for the first time in the UK / El eucalipto de Morrisby florece por primera vez en el Reino Unido

Tom Hart Dyke, worldwide plant hunter, creator of World Gardens and avid plant collector able to make Silver Princesses bloom strikes again with yet another horticultural success.

In the grounds of Lullingstone Castle, one of the rarest Eucalyptus species has bloomed for the first time to become the first acclimatized specimen of its kind in the UK.

Eucalyptus morrisbyi in bloom for the first time in the UK / El eucalipto de Morrisby florece por primera vez en el Reino Unido /Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden of Plants, by Tom Hart Dyke / Castillo de Lullingstone y El Jardín del Mundo, por Tom Hart Dyke / GIT Forestry Consulting, Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal, Lugo, Galicia, España, Spain / Eucalyptologics, information resources on Eucalyptus cultivation around the world / Eucalyptologics, recursos de informacion sobre el cultivo del eucalipto en el mundo(Click image to enlarge for a full print)

Back in 1999, while plant hunting in Tasmania, Tom carefully collected a small amount of seed from one of the rarest tree species in the island and one of the least common eucalypts in cultivation around the world, Eucalyptus morrisbyi. And from those seeds, these blooms.

The late "casual" discovery of the species by Robert Brett in 1939 and its scarcity in the wild had prevented it from becoming widely cultivated overseas, as it happens with more common eucalypts. This endangered endemism is nowadays at risk of disappearing in its natural habitat due to poor recruiting of new seedlings, genetic contamination, ocasional drought and browsing. Just some 2000 specimens of Morrisby's Gum are known to survive in wild populations, as its main habitat was cleared for other uses by early settlers many moons before the trees were discovered.

Fortunately, a keen interest from researchers at the School of Plant Science (UTAS) to work out the problems and outline solutions for conservation of this gum tree, plus a proper support from competent administrative bodies in Tasmania mean that E. morrisbyi is currently under the protective umbrella of a recovery plan. May it always be.

For cultivation overseas, like Tom, use respectfully collected seed, or better if sourced from ex situ plantings.

Interesting Literature

  • Jones, RC; McKinnon, GE; Wiltshire, RJE; Potts, BM & Vaillancourt, RE (2005) Conservation genetics of an endangered endemic, Eucalyptus morrisbyi. Advances in Plant Conservation Biology, implications for flora management and restoration : symposium program and abstracts 25-27 October 2005 / Dept. of Conservation & Land Management, Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Perth, Western Australia, pp. 29.
  • Brett, R.G. (1939). The description of a new eucalypt species. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1938: 129-130

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4 Comments by our readers :::

Marisha - Atlanta said...

Posted by Marisha-Atlanta on 12/18/2008, 8:17 pm, in reply to "Rare Eucalyptus blooms in the UK for the first time"

Very interesting, how cold hardy are those trees?

What climate zone is that part of the UK?

Gus - Eucalyptologics said...

Posted by Gus on 12/18/2008, 10:23 pm, in reply to "Re: Rare Eucalyptus blooms in the UK for the first time"

Thanks Marisha :-)

It is difficult to say with certainty, because it is not a very commonly cultivated plant, so data are scarce. Ian has grown it in the PNW. My guess is somewhere in the range of 10 to 15ºF, but it could be a bit more hardy. Much of this has to do not just with the minimum temperature itself, but the duration of the coldest freezing spells.

That part of Kent (UK) is mostly in Zone 8 and away from the milder coastal line, but there is surely some noticeable microclimate variation. Quite harsh by winters in the garden (they move/protect a huge amount of plants from the display areas every autumn).

Heather J said...

Great to see Tom's trees in flower.
E. morrisbyi is closely related to E. gunnii and superficially bears a strong visual likeness.
The species is considered to have been once part of the E. gunnii complex and became isolated during the last ice age and now occurs at near sea level near Hobart.
It differs from E. gunnii in having much more brittle limbs and larger fruit and seed capsules. It has however, kept its ancestral frost hardiness and has survived an estimated -14°c here in southern New Zealand with no damage.
We have produced seed here for some years and have sold back to Tasmania!
It is an attractive species and profuse flowering here is enjoyed by the birds and bees indicating that it must have a good nectar flow
Graham Milligan, Dipton, New Zealand

Gus - Eucalyptologics said...

Thanks for that Milligan input! :-)

No need to say, your eucalypt trees at Dipton are one of our favourite "ex situ plantings" and a great option for those in need of seed to grow these eucalypts overseas without increasing pressure for seed collection in their natural habitat :-)

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