Eucalyptus is a genus of hardwood evergreen forest trees, and is the most conspicuous element of Australian vegetation. Its members constitute 95 percent of the continent's forests and are the dominant trees of Australia's woodlands (Kelly 1969). It is an extremely diverse group, with approximately 500 named species and subspecies and nearly 200 described hybrid varieties (Blakely 1965). The genus is overwhelmingly endemic to the Australian mainland and Tasmania. Only seven species occur naturally outside the continent, mostly on the islands of Papua/New Guinea and the Indonisian island of Timor, and only two of these species are not represented on the Australian continent. Eucalyptus is classified in the family Myrtaceae and is a member of the mostly endemic, 26-genera subfamily Leptospermoideae (Beadle 1981).
The foundation of this genus' great diversity is simply its ability to adapt and to produce species suitable for various environmental conditions. Eucalypts are quite hardy and have successfully adapted to a wide range of conditions. For example, the snow gums (Eucalyptus niphophila, E. pauciflora, and others) inhabit altitudes of 5-6000 feet and can therefore withstand exposure to intense cold, heavy snowfalls, and high winds characteristic of the shallow-soiled Australian Alps. At the other extreme, in the arid, parched deserts of the interior, eucalypts are restricted to watercourses and sheltered depressions where sufficient moisture allows survival during long periods of drought. Amidst these two extremes, eucalypts occur in both tropical summer-rainfall and cool temperate winter-rainfall regions. They occupy dry and wet sites, including swamps. They...
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...in Australia. Pp. 461-71. The Haag: Dr. W. Junk.
Pryor, L. D. (1976). The Biology of Eucalypts. Southampton: The Camelot Press Ltd.
Pryor, L. D. and Johnson, L. A. S. (1971). A Classification of the Eucalypts. Canberra: The Australian National University.
Recher, Harry F. (1985). Eucalypt Forests, Woodlands and Birds: An Introduction. In Birds of Eucalypt Forests and Woodlands: Ecology, Conservation, Management. Ed. A. Keast, H. F. Recher, H. Ford, and D. Saunders, pp. 1-10. Chpping Norton, New South Wales: Surrey Beatty and Sons Pty Ltd.
Specht, R. L. (1970). Vegetation. In The Australian Environment, 4th ed. Ed. G. W. Leeper, pp. 46-67. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
Williams, R.J. and Costin, A.B. (1994). Alpine and subalpine vegetation. In Australian Vegetation, 2nd ed. Ed. R.H. Groves, pp. 467-500. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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