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Products > Eucalyptus spathulata
Eucalyptus spathulata - Swamp Mallet
Image of Eucalyptus spathulata
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtles)
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Cream
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 15-20 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Eucalyptus spathulata (Swamp Mallet) - A multitrunked, erect and gracefully spreading tree with slender trunks that grows to 30 tall by as wide with attractive smooth satin-like red bark that peels off to expose the white layer beneath. It has a dense crown of linear glossy gray-green leaves held near branch tips. The flowers with golden buds and cream-colored stamens are held in groups of three or seven and bloom in the summer followed by cup shaped to conical fruit capsules.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally to infrequently - once established this plant requires no irrigation in coastal gardens but appreciates occasional supplemental irrigation in hotter inland sites. It is cold hardy to at least 15 F. This durable species tolerates most harsh conditions, including heat, cold, aridity, saline, alkaline and poorly drained soils, windy and near seashore exposure and drought. It is useful as an ornamental tree in the garden, useful as a tall screen or windbreak and it produces pollen bees like, so is desirable for apiculture.

Swamp mallet is found growing naturally in the southern Wheatbelt and inland Great Southern regions of Western Australia. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'eu' meaning "well" and 'kalypto' meaning 'to cover' as with a lid and an allusion to the united calyx-lobes and petals that is called an operculum that forms a lid or cap that is shed when the flowers open. The specific epithet is from the Latin word spathulatus, which means "a broad rounded upper part tapering gradually downward into a stalk" or "spoon-like" but reason this name was chosen remains unknown. The common name Swamp Mallet is in reference to this plant occasionally growing in swampy areas and being in a group of Eucalyptus species Western Australia with these same slender stems and that do not regenerate from the base from lignotubers. Other common names include Narrow-leaved Gimlet and Swamp Gimlet.

The first tree we are aware of that was planted in our area was a tree planted by Santa Barbara City Arborist and UCSB Biology Greenhouse Manager Will Beittel on the University of California Santa Barbara campus in 1962. There are also several trees likely planted in the 1970s in a wide median on Emerson Ave, a short street along the base of the Santa Barbara Riviera near the Mission. Eucalyptus spathulata was promoted as a nursery industry introduction in 1979 by the Saratoga Horticultural Foundation. Los Angeles County Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Don Hodel included this species in his Western Arborist "Trees in the Landscape Series" in the Winter 2011 issue of Western Arborist, noting that unlike the few inappropriate garden Eucalyptus that have given the genus a bad reputation, this species was one of the "many wonderful, useful and appropriate species, many of which are little known and/ or underutilized and E. spathulata is one of them." He further notes that it is "a highly adaptable species .. [that] performs well and makes a handsome statement in the landscape from the desert Southwest to coastal California." We grew this tree at our nursery from 1991-1997 and thank Cal Poly San Luis Obispo botanist Dr. Matt Ritter for encouraging us to grow this tree again in 2021 and for providing us seedlings that were grown at the campus nursery. 

This information about Eucalyptus spathulata displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.