Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Eucalyptus sideroxylon
(black ironbark)



Eucalyptus sideroxylon (black ironbark)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Eucalyptus sideroxylon
  • Preferred Common Name
  • black ironbark
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Although slow-growing, E. sideroxylon is tolerant of frosts, droughts and poor soil and has become invasive in southern Africa, now a category 2 declared invader under the Conservation of Agricultural Resources ...

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Tree habit of mature E. sideroxylon. Armidale, NSW, Australia.
CaptionTree habit of mature E. sideroxylon. Armidale, NSW, Australia.
CopyrightANH, Canberra.
Tree habit of mature E. sideroxylon. Armidale, NSW, Australia.
TreeTree habit of mature E. sideroxylon. Armidale, NSW, Australia.ANH, Canberra.
Bark of mature E. sideroxylon. West of Armidale, NSW, Australia.
CaptionBark of mature E. sideroxylon. West of Armidale, NSW, Australia.
CopyrightANH, Canberra.
Bark of mature E. sideroxylon. West of Armidale, NSW, Australia.
BarkBark of mature E. sideroxylon. West of Armidale, NSW, Australia.ANH, Canberra.


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Eucalyptus sideroxylon A. Cunn. ex Woolls

Preferred Common Name

  • black ironbark

Other Scientific Names

  • Eucalyptus sideroxylon var. rosea Rehder

International Common Names

  • Portuguese: pau carvao

Local Common Names

  • Australia: black ironbark; mugga; mugga ironbark; pink-flowering ironbark; red ironbark
  • Brazil: eucalipto
  • South Africa: swartysterbasbloekom

EPPO code

  • EUCSD (Eucalyptus sideroxylon)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page Although slow-growing, E. sideroxylon is tolerant of frosts, droughts and poor soil and has become invasive in southern Africa, now a category 2 declared invader under the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (1983) (Henderson, 2001). Brown and Gubb (1986) reported it to have a low degree of invasion in semi-natural habitats in Namibia and the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, recording it from timber plantations.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Myrtales
  •                         Family: Myrtaceae
  •                             Genus: Eucalyptus
  •                                 Species: Eucalyptus sideroxylon

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page E. sideroxylon subsp. tricarpa is now considered to be a separate species, E. tricarpa, and is, therefore, excluded from this datasheet.


Top of page E. sideroxylon is a small to medium-sized woodland tree, commonly 10-25 m tall with exceptional specimens reaching 35 m, and with stem diameters at breast height up to 1.0 m. The form of the trunk is often rather poor, while the length does not usually exceed one-half of the tree height. The 'ironbark' is persistent on larger branches, hard and deeply furrowed, dark brown to black, with upper limbs covered in a smooth, whitish bark. Henderson (2001) describe it as an evergreen tree with the blackest bark of all eucalypts, leaves dark grey-green, 60-110 mm long, lance-shaped, pendulous, young leaves much more variable in shape. Flowers cream, pink or deep rose-red with exserted stamens. The buds are pendulous with conical or beaked lids, up to 12 mm long. The fruits are brown pendulous capsules, round to oval, 8-10 mm long with deeply enclosed valves, which may be covered by a sub-persistent staminal ring.


Top of page E. sideroxylon is native to Australia, occurring on the western slopes and plains of New South Wales and also west of Sydney to the Blue Mountains. It is also widespread in southeastern Queensland west of the Great Dividing Range, with a small extension into northern Victoria.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasivePlantedReferenceNotes


IndiaPresentIntroducedGogate and Dhaundiyal, 1988
-DelhiPresentIntroduced Planted
-RajasthanPresentIntroduced Planted
IranPresentIntroduced Planted


BotswanaPresentIntroduced Planted Buss, 2002
CongoPresentIntroduced Planted
KenyaPresentIntroduced Planted
LesothoPresentIntroduced Planted
MoroccoPresentIntroduced Planted Knockaert, 1984
MozambiquePresentIntroduced Planted
NamibiaPresentIntroducedBrown and Gubb, 1986
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive Brown and Gubb, 1986; Henderson, 2001
TunisiaPresentIntroduced Planted Zednik, 1978
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced Planted

North America

USAPresentIntroducedHanks et al., 1995; USDA-NRCS, 2004
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedHanks et al., 1995; USDA-NRCS, 2004
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Planted USDA-NRCS, 2004

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroduced Planted
BrazilPresentIntroduced Planted
ChilePresentIntroduced Planted Jayawickrama et al., 1993


PortugalPresentIntroduced Planted
SpainPresentIntroduced Planted


AustraliaPresentNativeBoland et al., 1984
-New South WalesPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-QueenslandPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced Planted
-VictoriaPresentNativePlanted, Natural
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Planted

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page Due to its tolerance of drought, some frost and poor shallow soils, E. sideroxylon has been widely planted in northern Africa. It was planted in South Africa for various uses including timber, fuelwood, in shelterbelts, honey production and as an ornamental plant but has become invasive in riparian habitats (Henderson, 2001).

Risk of Introduction

Top of page There is comparatively little information available on the biology of E. sideroxylon and its behaviour as an invasive species. Since it has become invasive in South Africa, future introductions should consider the possibility that it may become invasive in an exotic location.


Top of page E. sideroxylon is a woodland species, typically found on infertile, shallow soils, including sands, gravels, ironstones and clays. In its alien range, Brown and Gubb (1986) reported it to invade some semi-natural habitats, e.g. timber plantations in Namibia and Northern Cape Province, South Africa, and Henderson (2001) describes it as an invader of watercourses in South Africa.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Provenance variation can be anticipated as the species has a very wide ecological range. However, few comprehensive provenance trials, as a basis for properly assessing the potential of the species, appear to have been established. E. sideroxylon is a relatively slow growing, coppicing species. It reproduces from wind-dispersed seed.

The climate in the native range of E. sideroxylon is largely warm sub-humid but the species extends to the warm humid and warm semi-arid zones, with annual rainfall of 420-1000 mm, with a winter or summer maximum and extended dry season depending on location. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including shallow, saline and infertile sites, though prefers free draining soils, and can be grown at altitudes up to 2000 m.

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
-25 -36 0 2000

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 19 24
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25 34
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0 8


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration47number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall4201000mm; lower/upper limits

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Two herbivores, Anoplognathus sp. and Gonipterus sp. are noted as occassional pest, with limited available information.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page No specific information is available for E. sideroxylon, but it is known that wind disperses the seed of several other invasive Eucalypt species e.g. E. cladocalyx, E. grandis and E. lehmanii (Dean et al., 1986). The ability to withstand droughts, frosts and poor soils has led to the introduction of this species to regions outside its native Australia including countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) Negative
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna Negative
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Environmental Impact

Top of page Henderson (2001) describes E. sideroxylon as a 'potential habitat transformer' but in general, there is little specific information available.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


Top of page The tree has ornamental value; a pink or red flowering form (var. rosea) being used in horticulture. It also makes a good shelterbelt tree and is an excellent honey producer. The timber of E. sideroxylon, although difficult to work, is very heavy, very hard and very durable and is used in general construction and particularly where durability is important. Wood products made from this tree include, posts, building timbers, beams, exterior fittings, bridges, railway sleepers, boats, pulp and charcoal.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

No precise information available is available on the control of E. sideroxylon specifically; however, for some other invasive Eucalyptus species (e.g. E. cladocalyx and E. globulus), the practice of digging out seedlings and young trees has been applied (Weber, 2003). Similarly mature trees of these species have been felled and the stumps treated with herbicide and herbicides can be used to spray any seedlings/shoots that appear after the above treatment, whereas drilling stems and filling with herbicide is a further approach (Weber, 2003).


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Ashour HM, 2008. Antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities of volatile oils and extracts from stems, leaves, and flowers of Eucalyptus sideroxylon and Eucalyptus torquata. Cancer Biol Ther, 7(3):399-403.

Bignell CM; Dunlop PJ; Brophy JJ; Jackson JF, 1997. Volatile leaf oils of some Queensland and northern Australian species of the genus Eucalyptus. (Series II). Part I. Subgenus Symphyomyrtus, section Adnataria: (a) Series Oliganthae, (b) Series Ochrophloiae, (c) Series Moluccanae, (d) Series Polyanthemae, (e) Series Paniculatae, (f) Series Melliodorae and (g) Series Porantheroideae. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 12(1):19-27; 18 ref.

Boland DJ; Brooker MIH; Chippendale GM; Hall N; Hyland BPM; Johnston RD; Kleinig DA; McDonald MW; Turner JD, 2006. Forest Trees of Australia (5th ed.). Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing,, 736 pp.

Boland DJ; Brooker MIH; Chippendale GM; Hall N; Hyland BPM; Johnston RD; Kleinig DA; Turner JD, 1984. Forest trees of Australia. 4th ed. Melbourne, Australia:Thomas Nelson and CSIRO. xvi + 687 pp.; 77 ref.

Booth TH; Nix HA; Hutchinson MF; Jovanovic T, 1988. Niche analysis and tree species introduction. Forest Ecology and Management, 23(1):47-59; 29 ref.

Bootle KR, 1983. Wood in Australia: types, properties and uses. Sydney, Australia: McGraw-Hill Book Company, viii + 443pp.; many ref.

Brooker MIH; Kleinig DA, 1994. Field Guide to Eucalypts. Vol. 3. Northern Australia. Sydney, Australia: Inkata Press.

Brooker MIH; Kleinig DA, 1999. Field guide to eucalypts. Volume 1, second edition, South-eastern Australia. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Inkata Press.

Brown CJ; Gubb AA, 1986. Invasive alien organisms in the Namib desert, upper Karoo and the arid and semi-arid savannas of western southern Africa. In: The ecology and management of biological invasions in southern Africa, Macdonald IAW, Kruger FJ, Ferrar AA, eds. Cape Town, South Africa: Oxford University Press, 93-108.

Burger DW, 1987. In vitro micropropagation of Eucalyptus sideroxylon. HortScience, 22(3):496-497; 3 pl.; 8 ref.

Buss CM, 2002. The potential threat of invasive tree species in Botswana. Department of Crop Production and Forestry, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Botswana, 40 pp.

Cheng B; Peterson CM; Mitchell RJ, 1992. The role of sucrose, auxin and explant source on in vitro rooting of seedling explants of Eucalyptus sideroxylon. Plant Science Limerick, 87(2):207-214; 29 ref.

Clemson A, 1985. Honey and pollen flora. Honey and pollen flora., iv + 263 pp.; [B].

Craze B; Salmon J, 2004. A Review of Literature on Ironbark Ridges and Associated Lands. New South Wales, Australia: Dept. of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources.

Cremer KW, 1990. Trees for rural Australia. Melbourne, Australia: Inkata Press.

Dean SJ; Holmes PM; Weiss PW, 1986. Seed biology of invasive alien plants in South Africa and South West Africa / Namibia. In: Macdonald IAW, Kruger FJ, Ferrar AA (eds.), The Ecology and Management of Biological Invasions in Southern Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: Oxford University Press, 157-170.

Farrow R, 1996. Insect pests of eucalypts on farmland and in plantations in southeastern Australia. CSIRO Identification Leaflets, Nos. 4, 5, 7. Melbourne, Australia: CSIRO Publishing.

Fechtal M; Riedl B, 1993. Use of Eucalyptus and Acacia mollissima bark extract-formaldehyde adhesives in particleboard manufacture. Holzforschung, 47(4):349-357; 39 ref.

Gogate MG; Dhaundiyal UD, 1988. An evaluation of Eucalyptus introduction trials at New Forest, Dehra Dun. Indian Forester, 114(2):69-77; 23 ref.

Hanks LM; Paine TD; Millar JG; Hom JL, 1995. Variation among Eucalyptus species in resistance to eucalyptus longhorned borer in Southern California. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 74(2):185-194

Henderson L, 2001. Alien Weeds and Invasive Plants. Plant Protection Research Institute Handbook No. 12. Cape Town, South Africa: Paarl Printers.

Hillis WE; Brown AG, 1984. Eucalypts for wood production. Melbourne, Australia: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

House S; Nester M; Taylor D; King J; Hinchley D, 1998. Selecting trees for the rehabilitation of saline sites. Technical Paper 52. Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Jacobs MR, 1981. Eucalypts for planting. Eucalypts for planting., Ed. 2:xxiv + 677 pp. + 36 pl.; [B].

Jayawickrama KJS; Schlatter V JE; Escobar R R, 1993. Eucalypt plantation forestry in Chile. Australian Forestry, 56(2):179-192; 65 ref.

Knockaert C, 1984. Stand density and yield of Eucalyptus sideroxylon in the forests of the Mamora and of Ben Slimane. Annales de la Recherche Forestie^grave~re au Maroc, 24:101-125; 15 ref.

Murless P, 1994. Two and a half years of beekeeping in King William's Town, South Africa. South African Bee Journal, 66(5):100-105; [Bj].

Poynton RJ, 1979. Report to the Southern African Regional Commission for the Conservation and Utilization of the Soil (SARCCUS) on tree planting in southern Africa. Vol. 2. The eucalypts. Pretoria, South Africa: Department of Forestry. xvi + 882 pp.; ISBN 0-621-04763-5; 208 ref.

Ritson P; Pettit NE; McGrath JF, 1991. Fertilising eucalypts at plantation establishment on farmland in south-west Western Australia. Australian Forestry, publ. 1992, 54(3):139-147; 26 ref.

USDA-NRCS, 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Webb DB; Wood PJ; Smith JP; Henman GS, 1984. A guide to species selection for tropical and sub-tropical plantations. Tropical Forestry Papers, No. 15. Oxford, UK: Commonwealth Forestry Institute, University of Oxford.

Weber E, 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: A reference guide to environmental weeds. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, 548 pp.

Wright A, 1991. Using trees to reclaim land lost to sandplain seeps. Journal of Agriculture, Western Australia, 32(4):146-149; 2 ref.

Zednik F, 1978. Successful afforestation trials in the arid central region of Tunisia. [Gelungene Aufforstungsversuche in ariden Zentral-Tunesien.] Allgemeine Forstzeitung, 89(12):414-415; 2 pl.

Distribution Maps

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