Silver Princess flowers

Silver Princess

Common name Silver Princess / ‘Gungurru’
Botanical Name Eucalyptus caesia
Family Myrtaceae
Natural range A tiny patch of West Australian desert
Mature height 6-8m
Form Drooping, may need staking/support
Likes Hot, sunny conditions
Dislikes Staying upright
Where to plant In your front garden where everyone can enjoy it
Known for Powdery white stems and tall, drooping form

Stand up straight!

I couldn’t count the number of consultations we have done on these where they simply refuse to stay upright. In their natural form and range, the Silver Princess support one another from both wind and within the soil. Trees are more similar to a small Wattle than a Eucalypt, and can be often seen in dense groups, canopies supporting one another & a network of grafted roots for stability.

The Silver Princess

A small tree with silver pendulous branches with gray/bluish-green leaves, brown bark stem with a waxy outer layer of silver dust. A well-formed specimen is highly impressive within a garden setting. The distinctive Silver Princess is one of only a handful of Australian native trees also known by its indigenous name: Gungurru.

Chosen for its bird-attracting flowers

Beautiful red flowers with yellow antennae emerge in autumn/winter, bringing an incredible contrast to the bark. The beautiful blossoms that attract gardeners to this plant are also a beacon for birds and bees. An abundance of nectar and pollen will transform your garden into a pollinator’s paradise, attracting nectar-eating birds, such as Lorikeets and Honeyeaters. These visitors will guarantee heavy crops of shimmering gumnuts that are packed with seed.

Bark & Growth habit

These unusual (and popular) trees feature a stately drooping form with elongated branches and powdery white limbs, that reveal dark red bark. In maturity, this is known as ‘Minniritchi’ bark: a reddish colour with that is continuously longitudinally peeling without completely shedding. Interestingly, Minniritchi is another indigenous word, possibly related to minariji (Garuwali NT origin).

That fruit

The fruit is twice the size of the most Eucalypts and contributes to the attractive weeping habit. It naturally grows on granite outcrops in a restricted area in south-western Western Australia and prefers a hot dry summer without shade from taller trees.

Can they ever stand up?

There is no question The Silver Princess is one of the most striking trees you can find. However, as a standalone feature, this specimen will often frustrate tree owners with its bendy, pendulous habit and refusal to do as it is told. A network of guy ropes, staking systems and ingenious techniques is a common sight in many gardens all around the country as committed gardeners try to prevent these beautiful trees from toppling over.

Many years of investment, constant staking and fussing can still result in a tree that cannot support itself without staking. While nursery cultivar specimens developed to empathize the heavy, attractive fruit, foliage and pendulous nature are very beautiful, it certainly doesn’t help.

How to prune a Silver Princess

Its natural, weeping form is part of its signature beauty and hard pruning can change its shape. Selectively remove damaged or unruly growth and consider taking off branches with heavy proliferations of blossoms and gumnuts/fruit. This can help reduce some weight and prevent branches from snapping too.

Climate preference

The Silver Princess prefers a temperate climate or sandy-loamy soil sand, and dislikes wet feet or humidity. These specimens have a preference for partial shade or full sun, provided the water is adequate.

How to get one of these to stand up
  1. Ensure the soil is adequate. For these trees to be able to support themselves, they must develop a strong root system, i.e., compacted soil is not a good idea.
  2. A strong root system cannot be developed if the tree is strapped to a stake for most of its life.
  3. Using a tristake system or circular system (as opposed to a two-stake approach) is key. Using this, the tree is supported, prevented from windthrow, but doesn’t develop a stake-dependance.
  4. Proper, ongoing shaping by an Arborist or anyone who understands how to prune trees.
  5. Planting more than one specimen in a group if this fits your garden design goals and aesthetics.
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