Botanical Name: Eucalyptus coccifera
Common Names: Tasmanian snow gum, Mt. Wellington Peppermint
Habitat: Eucalyptus coccifera is native to Australia – Tasmania. Ir grows on rocky, dolerite rich sub-alpine regions in Tasmania’s south and Central Plateau.
Eucalyptus coccifera is a tree that typically grows to a height of 15 metres (49 ft) but is sometimes a mallee to 5 m (16 ft). The bark is smooth and light grey to white, with streaks of tan. Young plants and coppice regrowth have sessile, blue-green, elliptic to heart-shaped leaves 15–45 mm (0.59–1.77 in) long and 7–23 mm (0.28–0.91 in) wide. Adult leaves are arranged alternately, elliptic to lance-shaped, the same glossy green to bluish on both sides, 50–100 mm (2.0–3.9 in) long and 10–20 mm (0.39–0.79 in) wide on a petiole 8–22 mm (0.31–0.87 in) long. The flowers are borne in groups of three, seven or nine in leaf axils on a peduncle 4–12 mm (0.16–0.47 in) long, the individual buds on a pedicel 1–7 mm (0.039–0.276 in) long. Mature buds are oval, glaucous, 5–8 mm (0.20–0.31 in) long and 4–7 mm (0.16–0.28 in) wide with a warty, hemispherical to more less flattened operculum. Flowering occurs between December and February and the flower are white, or rarely, pink. The fruit is a woody conical, hemispherical or cup-shaped capsule 6–12 mm (0.24–0.47 in) long and 8–13 mm (0.31–0.51 in) wide.
Prefers a sunny position in a moderately fertile well-drained moisture retentive circum-neutral soil. Tolerates poor soils, especially those low in mineral elements. Tolerates dry soils and also drought once it is established. A very wind hardy tree, tolerating salt-laden winds. Plants are very frost resistant, tolerating long periods down to -10°c and short periods down to -16°c. Eucalyptus species have not adopted a deciduous habit and continue to grow until it is too cold for them to do so. This makes them more susceptible to damage from sudden cold snaps. If temperature fluctuations are more gradual, as in a woodland for example, the plants have the opportunity to stop growing and become dormant, thus making them more cold resistant. A deep mulch around the roots to prevent the soil from freezing also helps the trees to survive cold conditions. The members of this genus are remarkably adaptable however, there can be a dramatic increase in the hardiness of subsequent generations from the seed of survivors growing in temperate zones. A very ornamental tree, it grows very well in Britain as far north as the west of Scotland. The leaves are extremely aromatic. Plants are shallow-rooting and, especially in windy areas, should be planted out into their permanent positions when small to ensure that they do not suffer from wind-rock. They strongly resent root disturbance and should be container grown before planting out into their permanent position. Plants are subject to ‘silver leaf’ disease. Eucalyptus monocultures are an environmental disaster, they are voracious, allelopathic and encourage the worst possible attitudes to land use and conservation. The flowers are rich in nectar and are a good bee crop.
Seed – surface sow February/March in a sunny position in a greenhouse. Species that come from high altitudes appreciate 6 – 8 weeks cold stratification at 2°c. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as the second set of seed leaves has developed, if left longer than this they might not move well. Plant out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from the cold in their first winter. The seed can also be sown in June, the young trees being planted in their final positions in late spring of the following year. The seed has a long viability.
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There are no edible uses listed for Eucalyptus coccifera.
There are no medicinal uses listed for Eucalyptus coccifera.
Use in the landscape and/or garden:
he landscape and/or garden:
Good Specimen Tree for the wider landscape and for the medium/larger garden with free draining soil. Interesting architectural habit. Good for xerophytic landscapes, winter gardens and Australasian themes
Growing a full sized standard: Planting the tree and running away is an option, but it won’t necessarily give you the best results. For information on how to do it properly see our growing notes here
Growing a multi-stemmed bush or tree. E. coccifera does very well as a bushy shrub, when kept pruned annually (do this on March 19th) OR once turned into a multi-stemmed specimen, you can grow it up into a mature tree with many architectural branches and an open canopy of adult foliage.
Used to create:
*A tree with more body or ‘mass’ of branches and foliage for screening purposes, once grown back up to its full potential, but now with several main trunks
*An attractive multi-stemmed architectural tree, especially if it has exceptional bark
*To control height, whereby your Euc can be usefully maintained anywhere between 2.4m (8ft) and 7m (20ft), but genetically it will want to grow taller if ignored.
*To produce your own multistem from a young tree or maxi tree
Floral Art: Interesting species for cut foliage – robust and sturdy with a delicious minty fragrance. The juvenile foliage is very different from the adult foliage; both can be used for floral art.
Firewood Production: not on our list of recommended firewood species, but the wood will burn.
Hedge-Screens & Windbreaks: Great as a hedge-screen for non-boggy soils. As a young tree this looks different from your usual idea of a Eucalyptus. Beautiful deep jade-green, interestingly shaped foliage, making this a variety for a distinctive hedge or evergreen screen (2-3m tall).
Rural/Agricultural: Good shade tree for livestock to stand under. Eucalyptus provide a cool environment for horses, cattle, llamas, sheep to shelter from the sun on hot days, as the mass evaporation of water through the leaves creates a cool shady canopy beneath. Also, I have been told that the eucalyptol in the leaves deters flies
Ecology: The flowers are useful to bees and other pollinating insects. This species also lends itself to providing good trouble-free habitat creation for wildlife and game cover, when planted in groups. Birds enjoy roosting in Eucalyptus trees and Pheasants like rootling around underneath them. The shredded foliage of this species is excellent at keeping Chicken nest boxes and hen houses free of red mites, which detest the presence of Eucalyptol. I used to line our Chicken boxes with shredded leaves, strew the floor and pile up the spindly branches for the chickens to make nests. It was all great till the foxes moved into the next field!
*Tolerant of the salt-laden winds and air-borne sea-spray of coastal environments, but best perhaps grown a mile or two inland from the sea-front. Snow gums have extra thick leaf cuticles, which help them cope with such conditions, but a free draining soil is essential for them to be happy.
*Tolerant of cold and exposed growing environments inland, with non-boggy soils. No grass, no weeds and a thick bark chip mulch, to a depth of 150 mm (6 inches) are essential to assist with good establishment.
*Tolerant of arid environments, poor stony dry soils once established. It is essential that your Euc is given lots of water during its establishment phase before you abandon it to its fate. The tree needs to establish a good root system before it can survive in these challenging conditions.
Pot Culture outdoors: E. coccifera can be successfully grown as a multi-stemmed bush in a large container provided you are prepared to pot on at the recommended intervals and to supply it with sufficient water and food during the growing season. If not watered enough, it becomes thin and spindly
Shoots ‘n Leaves: Young shoots are shiny, ‘bobbly’ in texture and maroon (sometimes orangey-yellow) in colour with a white bloom, maturing to a coffee
Juvenile foliage is a deep jade green, sometime with purple undersides and lanceolate in shape.
Adult foliage is long, willow-like and elegant, about 5-10cm long and 1-2cm wide, glossy jade green to sage gree; typical eucalyptus colour on bright white or golden smooth stems; dramatically different from the juvenile foliage.
Bark: beautiful – a striking mosaic patchwork of silver, pearl grey and white reminiscent of E pauciflora group, but often with striations of coffee and rich chestnut.
Flowers: striking silvery flower buds carried throughout the summer months in groups of 3, 7 or 9, open white.
Leaf Aroma: wonderful strong, warm spicy peppermint aroma. I love to hand water the young trees on a warm summer evening as the fragrance is striking.
Citronellal, an essential oil found in most Eucalyptus species is reported to be mutagenic when used in isolation. In large doses, oil of eucalyptus, like so many essential oils has caused fatalities from intestinal irritation. Death is reported from ingestion of 4 – 24 ml of essential oils, but recoveries are also reported for the same amount. Symptoms include gastroenteric burning and irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, oxygen deficiency, ,weakness, dizziness, stupor, difficult respiration, delirium, paralysis, convulsions, and death, usually due to respiratory failure.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only.