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The Sydney peppermint is a eucalypt tree species native to central and southern NSW.
Sydney peppermints can be easily distinguished from other eucalypt trees by their dark coloured fibrous bark and smooth, pale branches. Long ribbons of bark hang from the branches.
The leaves of the Sydney peppermint can also be sensed by smell as they emit a strong peppermint smell. When blossoming, Sydney peppermints produce clusters of bright yellow-green flowers. Sydney peppermints grow to around 20 metres tall.
The scientific name for the Sydney peppermint is Eucalyptus piperita. Piperita is the Latin word for pepper-like, referring to the peppermint aroma of the leaves. The Sydney peppermint is not actually a type of peppermint.
Sydney peppermint trees can be found in dry sclerophyll forests of woodlands. They grow in moderately fertile soil.
They tend to grow on the cooler sides of valleys and ridges.
The flowers of the Sydney peppermint attract many nectar-feeding animals such as flying foxes, birds and gliders.
Mature Sydney peppermints are especially important as they provide critical habitat in the form of tree hollows and hollow logs. Hollows are used as shelter by a range of native mammals, such as possums, and birds, such as owls and parrots.
It is important to protect Sydney peppermints from being logged so that they can grow large and old enough to produce hollows.
Sydney peppermint trees are a type of sclerophyll plant, meaning they are well adapted to growing in dry conditions. They have hard leaves which do not require a lot of water to grow.
Mature leaves hang vertically which limits their exposure to direct sunlight and reduces the amount of water lost due to heat.
Sydney peppermints have evolved ‘tough’ features to survive bushfires. The fruits are hard, woody capsules to protect the seeds inside it during a fire. Their thick bark protects the trunk of the tree from getting burned, protecting special buds on the trunk and branches so that they can sprout immediately after fire. These special back up buds are called epicormic buds.
At the base of the trunk are lignotubers which are swollen food storages that provide the tree with enough energy to grow back after fire.
Sydney peppermints produce flowers from late spring to mid summer. These flowers attract pollinators such as native bees, birds and mammals which pollinate flowers as they feed on their nectar or pollen.
When pollinated, the flowers of the Sydney peppermint turn into woody urn-shaped fruit. We commonly call the fruits of euclaypt trees ‘gumnuts’.
The gumnuts contain seeds which are released and dispersed by the wind before landing in the soil to germinate into a seedling.
Sydney peppermints can live for well over 100 years.
The oil from the Sydney peppermint can be found in over-the-counter remedies for colds and gut problems.
Eucalypt Forest is an exciting digital book which explores the beautiful natural environment of the Australian eucalyptus forest.
Learn about the interactions between plants and animals in the forest and how people can interact with and care for these special natural areas.
Containing a suite of interactive activities, videos and beautiful images, this book will encourage you to go out and explore your local eucalypt forest.
This book is designed by teachers to support the NSW Geography K-10 syllabus and Science and Technology K-6 syllabus.
EUCLID. 2020. Eucalyptus piperita. [online] CANBR. Available at: <https://apps.lucidcentral.org/euclid/text/entities/eucalyptus_piperita_subsp._piperita.htm>
Gardening Australia, 2022. Gum trees. [online] ABC. Available at: <https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/gum-trees/9431664>.
PlantNET, n.d. Eucalyptus piperita Sm.. [online] The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. Available at: <https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Eucalyptus~piperita>.
The distinctive ‘ribbons’ of bark that can be found on the lower branches of a Sydney peppermint. - "Eucalyptus piperita 090823-6931" by Tony Rodd. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (cropped).
Vertical hanging leaves of the Sydney peppermint. - "Amyema pendulum 090816-6849" by Tony Rodd. CC0 1.0 (cropped).
Sydney peppermint gumnuts are woody and contain numerous small seeds. - "Eucalyptus piperita 110227-0443" by Tony Rodd. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (cropped).
Field of Mars Reserve
East Ryde NSW 2112
telephone 02 9816 1298
We’d like to acknowledge the Wallumedegal Peoples of the Darug Nation, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we stand and pay our respects to Elders past and present.
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