Eucalyptus robusta
swamp mahogany

Myrtaceae (myrtle family)
New South Wales, Queensland
Eucalyptus robusta leaves. From Trees of Stanford and Environs, Ronald Bracewell

As with E. pellita and E. resinifera, this tree has rough, fibrous bark, and leaves that are glossy above and paler below. The buds, which are grouped in sevens, more or less (commonly 10), are often pink, produce flowers and fruit that are distinctly larger than the other so-called mahoganies.

The flower buds are instantly recognizable by their long beak. When the operculum is forced off by the expanding stamens, the flower dries up, the seed falls, and three or four sunken spokes can be seen radiating from the base of the persistent style presenting a pattern that can be recognized at a glance. Each bud has a substantial stalk and the group of buds as a whole has its own inch-long strap-like peduncle. A row was planted on the southwest side of Foothill Expressway as it approaches Arastradero Road in Palo Alto. A fine specimen is conspicuously located at the southeast corner of Palm Drive and Arboretum Road. There is a second swamp mahogony on the opposite side of Arboretum Rd. about 30 yards north (toward El Camino) of the fine Eriobotrya japonica growing at the corner. Two more grow on the south side of University Circle (between the road and hotel parking lot). A large example with striking reddish-brown bark is in the Stanford Industrial Park at the back of 1450 Page Mill Road, at the edge of a parking lot.

Eucalyptus robusta fruit and leaf. From An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees, Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino

Plantation trees on Maui are harvested at the rate of three a day, the logs are sawn at dawn, and at the end of the day two prefabricated houses, floor, walls, and roof all of the same wood, are towed to the building site. (Not from that day’s logs – a year elapses while the lumber is stacked in the open to season.) To cope with the tendency of very hard wood to repel nails and possibly split, one carpenter does nothing but drill slightly undersize holes through the joists, studs, and rafters while a second inserts nails and drives them. An alternative procedure used for house building in Western Australia is to nail up the frame while green and allow the house to season and complete its shrinkage on the building site.

The hardness of eucalyptus logs that discouraged California saw millers accustomed to redwood and fir is dealt with on Maui by the use of a pair of bandsaws; the one used yesterday is in the loft being sharpened while the other is engaged in today’s cutting.

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 subsequently added a few tree locations.