Brittle Gum

Brittle Gum

Common name Brittle Gum
Botanical name Eucalyptus mannifera
Family Myrtaceae
Natural range Great Dividing Range/East coast Aus
Mature height to 18m
Form Slender upright form
Likes Shallow, rocky soils
Dislikes Waterlogged soil
Where to plant Somewhere with space
Known for Powdery white bark

Unraveling the Beauty of Eucalyptus Mannifera: The Brittle Gum
Can You Identify a Brittle Gum?

Imagine walking through the Australian bush, the aroma of eucalyptus wafting through the air, your fingers brushing against the smooth, powdery bark of a Brittle Gum. The Eucalyptus mannifera, commonly known as the Brittle Gum, is a unique specimen, its powdery white bark setting it apart from its relatives in the Eucalyptus genus. Come summer, this bark transforms into a stunning palette of red-to-pink hues, flaking off in small strips or plates in a process known as ‘decorticating’. This contrast of the colourful bark against the bluish-green foliage is a sight to behold.

Where Does Brittle Gum Call Home?

Sprinkled across the north-eastern landscapes of Victoria, extending into New South Wales through the Great Dividing Range, you’ll find these magnificent trees growing wild. Their resilience in the face of moderate drought and poor soil conditions make them a practical choice for home gardens or street plantings. But remember, they prefer shallow, rocky soils and dislike waterlogged conditions. Next time you’re on a road trip through Victoria or the ACT, keep an eye out for the powdery bark of Brittle Gums lining the roadsides.

Why is it Called a Brittle Gum?

It’s not merely a catchy name. The Brittle Gum earns its moniker from the brittleness of its wood. As beautiful as they are, these trees aren’t ideal for timber due to this fragility. If you’re an arborist planning a pruning session, take caution: the branches of this tree have a knack for snapping unexpectedly!

Is it a Brittle Gum or a Wallangarra White Gum?

The world of Eucalyptus can sometimes become a tangled web of similar-looking trees. One such twin of the Brittle Gum is Eucalyptus scoparia, also known as the Wallangarra White Gum. How do you tell them apart? Pay attention to the leaves. While the Brittle Gum sports duller, bluish leaves, the Wallangarra White Gum flaunts shiny green foliage.

How Tall Does the Brittle Gum Grow?

Eucalyptus mannifera, with its slender, upright form, is not a giant among trees. However, it does have the ability to reach heights of up to 18 meters. This means it can provide a good amount of shade without completely overwhelming a garden. Plus, its natural elegance makes it a spectacular focal point in any landscape.

Why Choose a Brittle Gum for Your Garden?

The Brittle Gum is a fascinating tree. It’s not only visually appealing with its white, powdery bark and blueish-green foliage, but also remarkably robust. Its ability to withstand poor soils and moderate drought conditions makes it a low-maintenance choice for the garden. Furthermore, its resilience allows it to thrive in various environments, from rocky outcrops to suburban gardens, as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged.

Does Brittle Gum Provide Habitat for Wildlife?

In their natural habitat, Brittle Gums play a vital role in the ecosystem. Their blossoms provide nectar and pollen for a wide variety of insects, birds, and mammals, making them a buzzing hub of activity. If you’re looking to attract wildlife to your garden, planting a Brittle Gum could be a step in the right direction.

Fascinating Facts About the Brittle Gum:
  1. Despite its brittleness, the wood of Brittle Gum is sometimes used for firewood due to its high heat output.
  2. Brittle Gum secretes a sweet, edible substance from its leaves, referred to as “manna”. This substance is enjoyed by a variety of wildlife.
  3. The ‘Little Spotty’, a popular dwarf variety of Brittle Gum, can reach up to 8 meters tall despite its ‘dwarf’ status.
  4. Brittle Gum can be distinguished from its close relative, the Wallangarra White Gum, by its duller, bluish leaves.
  5. The bark of the Brittle Gum transforms from a powdery white to a stunning palette of red-to-pink hues in summer.
Links for Further Reading:
  1. More on the Eucalyptus genus
  2. Details on the Wallangarra White Gum
  3. A deeper dive into the Myrtaceae family
What’s Special About the ‘Little Spotty’?

The ‘Little Spotty’ might sound like a type of Spotted Gum, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s a popular dwarf variety of the Brittle Gum often found in nurseries. Despite its ‘dwarf’ status, this fast-growing cultivar can still stretch up to 8 meters tall. So, if you’re considering adding a ‘Little Spotty’ to your garden, make sure you have ample space for it to thrive.

Fascinating Facts About the Brittle Gum:
  1. The Brittle Gum belongs to the Myrtaceae family, which also includes well-known plants like the bottlebrush, guava, and myrtle.
  2. Its botanical name, Eucalyptus mannifera, roughly translates to “manna-bearing” in reference to the sweet, edible substance secreted by its leaves.
  3. Despite its brittleness, the wood of Brittle Gum is sometimes used for firewood due to its high heat output.
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