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Flora in Focus – Bookleaf Mallee

Gorgeous gums

Bookleaf Mallee

Eucalyptus krueseana, commonly known as Bookleaf Mallee, is a mallee that is endemic to inland Western Australia. It has a crown of sessile, juvenile leaves, glaucous flower buds, creamy yellow flowers, and smooth bark that is shed in ribbons.


Family: Myrtacae
Scientific Name: Eucalyptus kruseana
Nyungar Name: Koodjat
Common Name: Bookleaf Mallee


Taxonomy:

Eucalyptus kruseana was first formally described by the botanist Ferdinand von Mueller in 1895 in the Australasian Journal of Pharmacy. In 1910, Joseph Maiden described Eucalyptus morrisonii in the Journal of the Natural History and Science Society of Western Australia, but in 1920 accepted that it was the same as E. kruseana and that E. morrisonii is, therefore, a synonym.

Eucalyptus is derived from Greek, eu - well and calyptos - covered, referring to the cap which covers the developing flowers. The specific epithet kruseana honours John Kruse, a German-born pharmacist, who worked in Melbourne.


Eucalyptus-kruseana

The mallee is a small evergreen slow-growing species that only reaches around 5 metres in height. It is an ornate, multi-branched small tree or shrub with round, blue-grey, and red-edged leaves and white, waxy branchlets.

Straggly branches of Bookleaf Mallee

'Bookleaf' accurately describes the arrangement of the leaves that are closely stalked in pairs along the stem and cling densely to the branches. Juvenile leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, sessile, heart-shaped to more or less round. Mature leaves rarely develop in the crown.

It is a straggly mallee with a smooth bronze to coppery or dark grey textured bark that sheds in thin ribbons, but is rough and fibrous near the base. Around Autumn and Winter, abundant clusters of creamy-yellow flowers appear and surround the branches with floral bracelets. They open from waxy-white buds with cone shaped caps and are followed by round, cup-shaped fruits. Flower buds are arranged in groups of seven on an unbranched peduncle.

Honeyeater enjoying the nectar laden blossom of the Bookleaf Mallee

Native to Western Australia, Bookleaf Mallee occurs naturally on rocky hills in an arid environment. It has a restricted distribution on granite hills and among granite outcrops east and south east of Kalgoorlie, from Cardunia Rock north of Karonie to Binyarinyinna Rock and east of Higginsville, usually found on or near granite rock in south eastern Western Australia where it grows in sandy-loam soils.

The species does well in the full sun, in well-drained soils. It is largely heat and drought tolerant and thrives well in most soil types, including coastal sands. It can be pruned back hard and will reshoot from a lignotuber and this feature allows the plant to regenerate and refresh the foliage.

Georgiana Molloy

23 May 1805 – 8 April 1843.

Georgiana Molloy was an early settler in Western Australia, who is remembered as one of the first botanical collectors in the colony. She was self-taught and became the first internationally successful female botanist in WA. She collected and despatched seeds of local native plants to James Mangles FRS who passed them to collectors in the UK. She was known for her detailed botanical descriptions.

In 1829, Georgiana Molloy moved from the middle-class comfort of the English border country to an isolated wilderness on the opposite side of the world. The young bride and her husband, Captain John Molloy, were among a small party that founded the settlement of Augusta on Western Australia’s south-west coast. A pioneer of great courage and capacity, Georgiana was presented with seemingly overwhelming trials and hardships. But she was a woman who was never defeated by circumstance and never ceased to find enjoyment and satisfaction in her life. One of her enduring legacies is her study and identification of much of the unique local Western Australian flora.

Her brilliance was shrouded by the misdeeds of her husband, John, who was involved in the Wonnerup massacre. She has been the subject of research into how records and family history documents obfuscate the telling of those events.

"Not one in ten thousand who go out into distant lands has done what she did for the Gardens of her Native Country, and we have indeed as regards her specially to lament, that 'From Life's rosy Chaplet, the Gems drop away'."

– George Wailes, Horticulturist,
in a letter to J. Mangles on hearing of Georgiana's death.

Georgiana Molloy

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