The Southern Highlands is a biodiversity hotspot with a huge range of rainfall, geology and altitude, which creates many different microclimates. There are several hundreds of different eucalypt species ocurring within Wingecarribee and Wollondilly local government areas. There are Scribbly gums, Peppermints, Ribbon Gums, Stringybarks, Iron Barks, Snow Gums, Forest Red Gums, Cabbage Gums, White-topped Box, Yellow Box, Grey Gums, Swamp Gums, and some of our rarer species include Eucalyptus aquatica and Eucalyptus macarthurii.
Gum trees are distinguished by their form; the type of bark they have; the colour and shape of leaves; and the shape of buds and fruit (gum nuts). Photographs of flowers are virtually useless from an identification perspective.
Trees with smooth (no) bark on their trunk and branches are termed gums (eg Forest Red Gum). Trees with mostly smooth bark but with it peeling in ribbons are ribbon gums. Those with bark part way up their trunks but smooth main branches are termed boxes (eg Yellow Box). Peppermints are trees with fibrous flaky bark, persistent on trunk and larger branches. The bark of stringybarks can be pulled off in long strings, while ironbarks have dark deeply furrowed bark. A mallee is a eucalypt that has multiple stems and a low growth habit.
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