- Eucalyptus coccifera
- MYRTACEÆ; Myrtle Family
- Common Name: Tasmanian Snow Gum or the Mount Wellington Peppermint
- Status: Evergreen Tree
- Origin: A native tree of Tasmania. It grows in the sub-alpine dolerite areas and also grows as a shrub on margins of the alpine Central Highland Tasmania, Mount Wellington. Often grows at the extreme limits of the tree line.
Tasmanian Snow Gum or the Mount Wellington Peppermint
Why we like this species:
- Striking aromatic juvenile foliage
- Good medium sized tree with striking bark detail
- Makes for a different distinct hedge or screen
- Good cut foliage for floral art
An interesting species of variable habit. I have seen low growing ones reminiscent of a small alpine snow gum (E. pauciflora subsp niphophila) and tall upright specimens similar to an E. archeri
Shoots ‘n Leaves: Young shoots are shiny, ‘bobbly’ in texture and maroon (sometimes orangey-yellow) in colour with a white bloom, maturing to a coffee colour.
Juvenile foliage is a deep jade green, sometime with purple undersides and lanceolate in shape.
Adult foliage is long, willow-like and elegant, about 5-10cm long and 1-2cm wide, glossy jade green to sage gree; typical eucalyptus colour on bright white or golden smooth stems; dramatically different from the juvenile foliage.
Bark: Beautiful – a striking mosaic patchwork of silver, pearl grey and white reminiscent of E. pauciflora group, but often with striations of coffee and rich chestnut.
Flowers: Striking silvery flower buds carried throughout the summer months in groups of 3, 7 or 9, open white.
Leaf Aroma: Wonderful strong, warm spicy peppermint aroma. I love to hand water the young trees on a warm summer evening, as the fragrance is striking.
Rate of Growth: Medium – 1-1.5 m (3-4 ft) per year.
Height in maturity, if left unpruned: Sometime grows to only a small mallee of around 5m and also to a medium sized mature tree of around 15m (about the size of a silver birch tree) and if pruned will take on the size and shape of a species rose or coppiced Hazel tree.
Hardiness: Once established: Extremely hardy and tolerates exposed conditions Long renowned for being cold hardy in the UK. Down to -10 to -16°C mark, once mature. Hardiness in Eucalyptus is governed by provenance of seed, how it is grown (i.e. high nitrogen levels reduces cold tolerance), age of the tree – the older your tree, the hardier it will be. Younger Eucs are more susceptible to frost damage.
It originates from a freezing cold mountainous district of Tasmania and enjoys cool summer months with slow but steady growth – so should be happy in the UK! It can be shy to get going, becoming faster growing with time.
Lignotuber: It has one, which is a good thing! E. coccifera will regenerate off the lignotuber if cut down by man, beast or nature. It also produces many shoots from epicormic buds lying dormant beneath the bark higher up the tree; so E. coccifera will respond extremely well to both coppicing and pollarding practices.
Note: Although is E. coccifera is classified as being a snow gum, it is genetically one of the peppermints (Eucalyptus section Aromatica). All have a strong minty aroma to their leaves. Other members of this group are:- E amygdalina, E nitida, E. pulchella, E risdonii, E tenuiramis
Meaning of the name: Up for discussion. In my opinion – it is a reference to the very distinctive red-maroon coloured bobbly young stems. Euclid says it refers to Coccus infection of the leaves – which I don’t think to be correct. Latin: coccus meaning grain seed or pill and fera meaning bearing.