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Eucalyptus astringens subsp. astringens


Brown mallet

Eucalyptus astringens (Maiden) Maiden, Crit. Revis. Eucalyptus 7: 55 (1924) subsp. astringens.

E. occidentalis var. astringens Maiden, J. W. Austral. Nat. Hist. Soc. 3: 186 (1911). T: Broomhill, W.A., Dec. 1909, J.H.Maiden s.n.; holo: NSW; iso: K.

Mallet to 15 m tall, rarely to 25 m. Lignotuber absent.
Bark smooth throughout, pale shiny grey over salmon to brown, but often with small curled flakes of dead bark adhering to lower trunk.
Banchlets with oil glands in the pith.
Juvenile growth (coppice or field seedlings to 50 cm): stems rounded in cross-section; juvenile leaves always petiolate, alternate, ovate-lanceolate, 6-10 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, dull, grey-green.
Adult leaves alternate, petioles 1-2.5 cm long; blade lanceolate, rarely falcate, 6-14 cm long, (0.8)1-2.5(3.5) cm wide, base tapering to petiole, margin entire, apex finely pointed, concolorous, green, at least slightly glossy, side-veins at an acute or wider angle to midrib, reticulation sparse to moderate (or sometimes dense) and clear, intramarginal vein present, oil glands numerous, +/- round, island and intersectional.
Inflorescences axillary unbranched, spreading to pendulous, peduncles narrowly to broadly flattened, 1.2-3.2 cm long; buds 7, pedicellate, stubby to slightly elongated, swollen at or just below the join, scar present (outer operculum shed early), inner operculum horn-shaped but usually blunt, ca 1.2-2 times the length of the hypanthium, stamens erect, anthers oblong, versatile, dorsifixed, dehiscing by longitudinal slits, style long and straight, stigma blunt, locules 3 or 4, the placentae each with 4 vertical rows of ovules; flowers cream to pale lemon.
Fruit pedicellate, cupular to campanulate or obconical, 0.6-1 cm wide, disc level at first then descending, valves 3 or 4, held at rim level or slightly exserted.
Seed blackish brown, 1-2.5 mm long, ovoid to flattened-ovoid, dorsal surface shallowly and clearly reticulate, hilum ventral.

Cultivated seedling (measured at node 10): cotyledons
Y-shaped (bisected); stems rounded in cross-section; leaves always petiolate, opposite for 4 or 5 nodes then alternate, deltoid to ovate, 4-8 cm long, 2-6.5 cm wide, dull, green to blue-green.


NOTES

Eucalyptus astringens (Latin, astringens, astringent, referring to extracts from the bark).

A mallet endemic to Western Australia, distributed south-east of Perth from Brookton, south to near Albany and east to Hopetoun. The adult leaves are glossy green.

Eucalyptus astringens belongs in Eucalyptus subgenus Symphyomyrtus section Bisectae sub-section Glandulosae because the buds have an operculum scar, cotyledons are bisected and branchlets have oil glands in the pith. Within this large sub-section (ca 80 species) Eucalyptus astringens is closely related to a group of mallets and mallees (series Erectae subseries Pedicellatae) recognised by the glossy green leaf surface, leaves with many oil glands but not obscuring the secondary venation, peduncles long and flattened or terete, inflorescences spreading to pendulous and buds with operculum longer than the hypanthium and erect stamens arising from a narrow staminophore.

Eucalyptus astringens is distinguished from its relatives by its mallet habit, smooth bark and stubby, blunt buds with operculum only 1 to 2 times the length of the hypanthium and its campanulate fruit. E. thamnoides has similar buds but differs in the consistent mallee habit. Other related species viz. the rough-butted tree of freshwater creeks and depressions, E. occidentalis , rough-barked mallee E. aspratilis , smooth-barked mallee E. sporadica and rough-butted tree of saline sites, E. sargentii , all have more slender buds with elongated opercula.

There are two subspecies:

subsp. astringens
It is always found on well-drained lateritic breakaways and occurs from Brookton to near Albany.


subsp. redacta (Latin redactus, reduced, of habit, buds and fruit compared to subsp. astringens).
A small mallet with smaller buds and fruits than in subsp. astringens, occurring between Albany and Bremer Bay, on lateritic breakaways.

The timber of E. astringens is very hard and strong. The species has been cultivated for use in tool handles, mining timber, farm purposes and fuel. The bark has a high tannin content.