Commonly known as Cliff Mallee-ash, Eucalyptus cunninghamii is very variable in size in its natural habitat. It may be found on steep slopes or clinging to cliff edges, hence its common name. Reaching 0.5 - 2m in height by 1 - 4 m across, this rare species may be found in small communities in the upper Blue Mountains of NSW.
In cultivation, however, E. cunninghamii rapidly attains a larger stature. At the Australian National Botanic Gardens a path runs under a fine specimen of multi-stemmed (or mallee) habit about 3 m high by 5 m spread at fifteen years old. The foliage is held densely on top of the many stems and the narrow leaves have a dull blue appearance. In autumn, masses of creamy flowers appear among the foliage.
In the garden situation E. cunninghamii proves a useful and hardy ornamental, growing well in Sydney's sandy soil and coastal conditions and also in Canberra's clay soils. When the new path was being built at the Botanic Gardens, several large stems were removed from the large specimen with no adverse effects. As with all mallees the whole shoot system may be removed to the ground and vigorous growth from the base will result. This type of growth is an adaptation to bushfire conditions in its natural habitat. E.cunninghamii will also stand being crowded by other trees, but this treatment is not recommended for best display.
Propagation is by seed sown in spring in a sandy seedling mix. Pests and diseases are limited to some scale insects, leaf-cutting grubs and beetles. No evidence of fungal leaf spots or other common Eucalyptus diseases have been found.
Text by S Donaldson (1979)
Name meaning: Eucalyptus cunninghamii
Eucalyptus - a Greek compound from eu, meaning well, and kalyptos, meaning veiled or covered, an allusion to the calyx and/or petals which form a lid over the flower bud;
cunninghamii - after Allan Cunningham (1791 - 1839), prominent botanical collector in Australia