Eucalyptus melliodora
yellow box

Myrtaceae (myrtle family)
Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland

My recollections of this splendid tree go back to when I was working for a bee-keeper on Scott’s Main Range, New South Wales, in 1939. His practice was to scan the valley slopes with binoculars for signs of flowering so as to judge where to move his hives for the next season. Like several species, yellow box, a premium tree, tends to flower in alternate years. The “yellow” refers to the sapwood color and the “box” to the nonpeeling, finely matted bark texture. It is a well-behaved street tree with a good silhouette and, when the nectar flow starts, fragrant. A specimen growing in open lawn was lost to construction of the Stauffer Chemistry buildings. Another exemplar, at the northwest corner of Mudd Chemistry, also has been sacrificed.

Dr. Matt Ritter, Cal Poly Plant Conservatory Director, in 2005 verified a new campus location for yellow box, a single tree remaining on Crothers Way, close to the Hoover Memorial Building called E. macarthurii in the book. He writes:

The tree appears not to be E. macarthurii for a number or reasons. 1. macarthurii is in the subgenus symphyomyrtus which has outer operculum scars (the outer operculum is shed early in bud development) the tree we looked at had no operculum scars. 2. some of the stamens on the tree we looked at are infertile (staminodes), macarthurii has stamens which are all fertile 3. macarthurii has bark that is rough and persistent over most of the trunk, the tree we looked at has shedding smooth bark over most of the trunk 4. macarthurii has sessile buds, the tree in question has buds on slender, relatively long pedicels. The specimen matches E. melliodora in many traits, specially the deciduous black staminophore on the fruit, and I believe this is the correct identification of this tree. (18 December 2005)

Related material: Eucalyptus checklist.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings subsquently added the Ritter note.