Eucalyptus regnans

Eucalyptus regnans, known variously as mountain ash, swamp gum, or stringy gum, is a species of medium-sized to tall forest tree, native to Tasmania and Victoria, Australia. It is a straight-trunked tree with smooth grey bark, but with a stocking of rough brown bark at the base, glossy green, lance-shaped to curved adult leaves, flower buds in groups of between nine and fifteen, white flowers and cup-shaped or conical fruit; some specimens are amongst the tallest trees in the world. It grows in pure stands in tall wet forest, sometimes with rainforest understorey, in temperate, high rainfall areas with deep loam soils. A large number of the trees have been logged, including some of the tallest known; this species of eucalypt does not possess a lignotuber and is killed by bushfire, regenerating from seed. Mature forests dominated by E. regnans have been found to store more carbon than any other forest known. The species is grown in plantations in Australia and in other countries and along with E. obliqua and E. delegatensis is known in the timber industry as Tasmanian oak.

Eucalyptus regnans is a broad-leaved, evergreen tree that grows to a height of 70–114 m but does not form a lignotuber. The crown is small in relation to the size of the rest of the tree; the trunk is straight with smooth, cream-coloured, greyish or brown back with a stocking of more or less fibrous or flaky bark that extends up to 5–20 m at the base. The trunk reaches a diameter of 2.5 m at breast height. Young plants and coppice regrowth have glossy green, egg-shaped leaves that are held horizontally, 55–120 mm long and 22–50 mm wide and petiolate. Adult leaves are arranged alternately along the stems, the same shade of glossy green on both sides, lance-shaped to broadly lance-shaped or sickle-shaped, 90–230 mm long and 15–50 mm wide, tapering to a reddish petiole 8–25 mm long; the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves are dotted with numerous tiny, circular or irregularly-shaped oil glands. Secondary leaf veins arise at an acute angle from the midvein and tertiary venation is sparse; the flower buds are arranged in leaf axils in groups of between nine and fifteen on one or two unbranched peduncles 4–14 mm long, the individual buds on pedicels 3–7 mm long.

Mature buds are oval. Flowering occurs from March to May and the flowers are white; the fruit is a woody, cup-shaped or conical capsule 5–8 mm long and 4–7 mm wide on a pedicel 1–7 mm long and with three valves near the level of the rim. The seeds are 1.5 -- 3 mm long with the hilum at the end. Seedlings have kidney shaped cotyledons, the first two to three pairs of leaves are arranged in opposite pairs along the stem alternate. Eucalyptus regnans was first formally described in 1871 by Victorian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller in the Annual Report of the Victorian Acclimatisation Society, he gave the specific epithet from the Latin word meaning "ruling". Mueller noted that "his species or variety, which might be called Eucalyptus regnans, represents the loftiest tree in British Territory." However, until 1882 he considered the tree to be a form or variety of the Tasmanian black peppermint and called it thus, not using the binomial name Eucalyptus regnans until the Systematic Census of Australian Plants in 1882, giving it a formal diagnosis in 1888 in Volume 1 of the Key to the System of Victorian Plants, where he describes it as "stupendously tall".

Von Mueller did not designate a type specimen, nor did he use the name Eucalyptus regnans on his many collections of "White Mountain Ash" at the Melbourne Herbarium. Victorian botanist Jim Willis selected a lectotype in 1967, one of the more complete collections of a specimen from the Dandenong Ranges, that von Mueller had noted was one "of the tall trees measured by Mr D. Boyle in March 1867."Eucalyptus regnans is known as the mountain ash, due to the resemblance of its wood to that of the northern hemisphere ash. Swamp gum is a name given to it in Tasmania, as well as stringy gum in northern Tasmania. Other common names include giant ash, stringy gum, swamp gum and Tasmanian oak. Von Mueller called it the "Giant gum-tree" and "Spurious blackbutt" in his 1888 Key to the System of Victorian Plants; the timber has been known as "Tasmanian oak", because early settlers likened the strength of its wood that of English oak. The brown barrel is a close relative of mountain ash, with the two sharing the rare trait in eucalypts of paired inflorescences arising from axillary buds.

Botanist Ian Brooker classified the two in the series Regnantes. The latter species differs in having brown fibrous bark all the way up its trunk, was long classified as a subspecies of E. regnans. The series lies in the section Eucalyptus of the subgenus Eucalyptus within the genus Eucalyptus. Genetic testing across its range of chloroplast DNA by Paul Nevill and colleagues yielded 41 haplotypes, divided broadly into Victorian and Tasmanian groups, but showing distinct profiles for some areas such as East Gippsland, north-eastern and south-eastern Tasmania, suggesting the species had persisted in these areas during the Last Glacial Maximum and recolonised others. There was some sharing of haplotypes between populations of the Otway Ranges and north-western Tasmania, suggesting this was the most area for gene flow between the mainland and Tasmania in the past. Interestingly, further analysis of the same chloroplast genetic markers by researchers

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