30 August 2011

Eucalyptus creta - Large-fruited Gimlet

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Eucalyptus creta - Large-fruited Gimlet

This species grows in mallee country to the north of Esperance and is found around 80 or so kilometres (50 miles) from the coast. It is very habitat specific preferring a heavy brown clay loam, noted for its sunken hollows known as crab-holes; it does not become swampy, but holds water well after prolonged rainfall. These habitats are usually dominated by Eucalyptus creta, but are mostly only a few hectares/acres in area, although over a few km/miles there could be several.

Eucalyptus creta is a slender tree reaching around 15 metres (50’) in height, the canopy is not wide and the foliage and flowers are usually well out of reach, but the birds love the 2.5 cm (1”) diameter yellow flowers and fly noisily from blossom to blossom. However the most spectacular feature is the glossy copper-orange trunk that is sometimes partially fluted and wonderfully smooth to the touch.

Under the trees there is little to no lower story vegetation, as these soils become very dry during summer and only the most hardy and deep rooted shrubs are able to survive the conditions. Flowering is anytime between May and September, the exact timing dependant on weather conditions when days are warm following seasonal rainfall that has moistened the soil. Once conditions are suitable they will progressively produce flowers over a 3 month period.