APS Sutherland: Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve Virtual Tour

16 - Red gum or Angophora costata


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Bark of Angophora costata soon after shedding the old bark

Angophora costata is a distinctive tree growing on Sydney sandstone, but it is also found along much of the NSW coast and southern Queensland.

Look out for the sinuous shape of the tree with twisted and gnarled branches and smooth bark. The mottled bark may vary in colour from pink to orange, red and grey. The tree loses its bark seasonally, with the shedding in summer leaving a smooth surface. The colour gives rise to the common names of Sydney Red Gum and Smooth-barked Apple.

It can be distinguished from the closely related Eucalypts through the pairing of leaves. Angophora costata has leaves which are opposite, while the adult leaves of Eucalyptus and Corymbia are alternate (but note that young Eucalypt and Corymbia saplings can bear juvenile leaves that are also opposite).

It has cream flowers in summer, followed by ribbed woody fruit (costata is Latin for ribbed). The related Angophora floribunda, with rough fibrous bark, also grows in Joseph Banks Reserve.