Corymbia citriodora (lemon-scented gum)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Wood Products
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Corymbia citriodora (Hook.) K. D. Hill & L. A. S. Johnson
Preferred Common Name
- lemon-scented gum
Other Scientific Names
- Corymbia citriodora subsp. variegata (F.Muell.) A.R.Bean & M.W.McDonald
- Corymbia variegata (F.Muell.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson
- Eucalyptus citriodora Hook.
- Eucalyptus maculata var. citriodora (Hook.) Bailey
- Eucalyptus melissiodora Lindl.
- Eucalyptus variegata F.Muell.
International Common Names
- English: citron-scent gum; Lemon gum tree
- Spanish: eucalipto
- French: Eucalyptus a odeur de citron
Local Common Names
- Australia: lemon-scented iron gum; spotted gum; spotted iron gum
- Germany: Zitronen- Eukalyptus
- Italy: Eucalipto a profumo di limone
- Puerto Rico: eucalipto de limón; eucalipto de pantano; eucalipto oloroso
- EUCCI (Eucalyptus citriodora)
- lemon-scented gum
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
C. citriodora is a medium-sized to large tree that has been widely introduced in tropical and subtropical regions of the world to be used as an ornamental, in reforestation projects, and for production of timber, pulp, and essential oils (Doran, 1999; Orwa et al., 1999). It has escaped from cultivation and spread into new habitats, becoming naturalized and invasive in disturbed areas and open forests. Once established, this species has the potential to out-compete native vegetation through the production of allelopathic substances which completely inhibit the germination, growth and establishment of native plants (Nishimura et al., 1984; Evaristo et al., 2011). It also represents an environmental concern in invaded areas due to its’ slow decomposition rate (Rezende et al., 2001), which also prevents the germination and growth of native species. Other concerns are related to the capability of C. corymbia to reduce ground-water availability, modify soil nutrients and increase the risk of soil erosion (Schneider, 2003).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Myrtales
- Family: Myrtaceae
- Genus: Corymbia
- Species: Corymbia citriodora
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
Medium-sized to large, straight stemmed tree, 25-40 m tall, with smooth, pale grey, cream or pink, powdery bark throughout, decorticating in flakes. Foliage is fine, somewhat sparse in the crown and emits a strong lemon-scent after rain or when abraded. The lemon-scented leaves are very useful in identifying the species. There is only one other species in the genus with this characteristic. It is the ironbark, E. staigeriana, which is easily separated from C. citriodora based on morphology, oil chemistry, and partly on natural distribution (Brooker and Kleinig, 1994; Hill and Johnson, 1995; Boland et al.,1984; Anderson, 1993).
Stems, petioles and leaves (particularly veins) are setose with bristle glands up to 0.5 cm long, in both the seedling and juvenile leaf stages. Leaves strongly lemon-scented when crushed, alternate, petiolate, ovate, lanceolate to broad-lanceolate, 14-21(30) × 2-5(8) cm, pale green and peltate, setose,becoming glabrous. Seedling leaves opposite for a few pairs then alternate, petiolate, peltate, ovate, 6.5-17 × 2.3-7.5 cm, pale green, slightly discolorous, setose. Inflorescences clustered on short, leafless shoots in axils of leaves towards ends of branchlets, 3-flowered; peduncles 0.3-0.7 cm long. Buds pedicellate, clavate, to 1 × 0.6 cm, no scar; operculum conical to slightly beaked, 0.3-0.4 cm long, 0.4-0.5 cm wide; flowers creamy white; fruit on pedicels 0.1-0.6 cm long, truncate-ovoid to urceolate, often warty, 0.8-1.5 cm long, 0.7-1.1 cm diameter; 3-locular; disc approximately 0.2 cm wide, seeds glossy red-black, dorsiventrally compressed, keeled on dorsal side, hilum ventral, minute cracks in the seed coat, 0.2-0.3 mm long, 1.5-2.5 mm wide (Boland et al., 1980; Hill and Johnson, 1995).
DistributionTop of page
C. citriodora is endemic to temperate and tropical eastern Australia, where it occurs mainly in Queensland. Slee et al. (2006) give the distribution as starting north from Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, but in their taxonomic treatment of the species, Corymbia variegata is treated as a chemotype of C. citriodora rather than as a separate species.
C. citriodora has been extensively planted as an ornamental tree in many regions of the world, and has been planted for commercial purposes in South America (mainly in Brazil), China, India, Sri Lanka, Central America, the West-Indies, and most countries in southern Africa. In South-East Asia it is mainly planted in Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam (Doran, 1999; Orwa et al., 1999; Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong, 2012; Govaerts, 2014; PROTA, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014).
Distribution TableTop of page
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.Last updated: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Planted||Reference||Notes|
|Congo, Republic of the||Present||Introduced|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|India||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Indonesia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Russia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-New South Wales||Present||Planted|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
C. citriodora was introduced during the middle of the 19th century in India, China, and Brazil (Shiva et al., 1987; Doran, 1999; FAO, 2014). In Thailand it was introduced in 1949, but commercial plantations no longer exist (Doran, 1999). In the West Indies, it was first recorded in 1936 in Guadeloupe and in 1946 in Martinique (US National Herbarium). In Hawaii, by 1960 about 127,000 trees were planted in forest reserves (Little and Skolmen, 2003).
HabitatTop of page
In its native range, C. citriodora grows in dry sclerophyll forest and woodlands in hilly country, mainly on lighter loamy soils or skeletal soils (Slee et al., 2006). It prefers elevations from 80 to 800 m altitude and can survive a severe dry season (Orwa et al., 1999).
Biology and EcologyTop of page
C. citriodora is an outcrossing diploid with 11 chromosomes (Healey et al., 2014).
C. citriodora is a cross-pollinated tree. It has nectar-rich flowers, which are visited and pollinated by flies, ants and, in particular, bees. The periodicity of reproduction on this species seems to be altered when it is planted outside its natural range (Orwa et al., 1999). In Australia, flowering has been recorded in January, April-August, October and December (Slee et al., 2006).
C. citriodora grows mainly in warm humid areas and coastal regions with mean maximum temperature of about 30-32°C, mean minimum temperatures of about 9-12°C, and mean annual rainfall of about 650-1600 mm. It is drought tolerant and can grow in areas with a long dry season (i.e., up to 7 months with less than 40 mm/month). C. citriodora can be found growing on poor, gravelly soils, podsols, residual Podsols, sandy soils, heavy soils, and clay soils (Doran, 1999; Orwa et al., 1999).
This species is found mainly in open forest or woodland formations (Boland et al., 1984). Common associated eucalypt species, depending on location, are Eucalyptus acmenoides, E. alba, E. cloeziana, E. crebra, E. exserta, E. melanophloia, E. tereticornis, and a range of bloodwood species including Corymbia clarksoniana.
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-3||-3|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||17||28|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||28||39|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||8||22|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||0||7||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
|Mean annual rainfall||650||2500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Within its native distribution range in Australia, C. citriodora has remained relatively free of diseases and pests. However, there is evidence that outside its native distribution range (i.e., Brazil), this species has been damaged by a range of diseases such as: leaf spot caused by Cylindrocladium spp., a rust (Puccinia psidii), and a stem canker (Cryphonectria cubensis), and infections by Endothia havanensis. In China, gummosis induced by Cytospora sp. and Macrophoma sp. has caused severe damage. In India, it is susceptible to a range of diseases including: Cylindrocladium seedling blight, a rust (Melampsora sp.), pink disease (Corticium salmonicolor), and Ganoderma root rot. The root rot fungus Pseudophaeolus baudonii attacked plantings of C. citriodora in Ghana causing 50% mortality over 3 years. Most problems arise on sites with high rainfall and humidity. C. citriodora is also very susceptible to termites. In India, Microcerotermes minor can cause up to 30% mortality and Odontotermes horni over 10%. A range of defoliating insects and a stem borer (Apate indistincta) have been noted causing occasional damage to plantations (Doran, 1999).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
C. citriodora spreads by seeds. In Australia, it bears seed only every 3-5 years, while in Brazil where it grows as an exotic species, it fruits abundantly every year. Seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, and by humans (Orwa et al., 1999).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Forestry||Used for timber||Yes||Yes||Doran (1999)|
|Habitat restoration and improvement||Planted for land reclamation||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al. (2009)|
|Hedges and windbreaks||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al. (2009)|
|Industrial purposes||The citronellal-rich oil is a preferred natural source for the production of hydroxycitronellal, cit||Yes||Yes||Doran (1999)|
|Ornamental purposes||Yes||Yes||Orwa et al. (2009)|
|Timber trade||Yes||Yes||Doran (1999)|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Cultural/amenity||Positive and negative|
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
|Human health||Positive and negative|
Environmental ImpactTop of page
C. citriodora is an invasive tree that has been widely introduced in tropical and subtopical regions of the world (Doran, 1999; Orwa et al., 1999). The allelopathy activity of this species together with its slow decomposition rate are factors inhibiting the germination, growth and establishment of native plants in invaded areas (Nishimura et al., 1984; Rezende et al., 2001; Evaristo et al., 2011). This species also has the capability to reduce ground-water availability, modify soil nutrients, displace native vegetation, and increase the risk of soil erosion (Schneider, 2003).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Long lived
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Altered trophic level
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of hydrology
- Modification of nutrient regime
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - smothering
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
C. citriodora has been widely introduced to be used as an ornamental, in timber production and to extract essential oil. The perfumed essential oil extracted from the leaves of C. citriodora is widely used in less expensive perfumes, soaps and disinfectants. This essential oil has antibacterial and insecticidal activity. The citronellal-rich oil is a preferred natural source for the production of hydroxycitronellal, citronellylnitrile and menthol.
The timber of C. citriodora is used for light and heavy construction (i.e., bridge construction, flooring, cladding, tool handles and case manufacturing). The wood of young trees has been successfully used for pulp and paper. In Brazil, large plantations have been established for charcoal production.
This species has been planted as an ornamental in parks and in reforestation projects. It is a favorite source of nectar and pollen in apiculture and gives a light amber honey (Doran et al., 1999; Orwa et al., 1999).
Uses ListTop of page
- Land reclamation
- Shade and shelter
Human food and beverage
- Honey/honey flora
- Spices and culinary herbs
- Carved material
- Essential oils
- Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
Wood ProductsTop of page
- Building poles
Sawn or hewn building timbers
- Engineering structures
- For heavy construction
- For light construction
- Industrial and domestic woodware
- Tool handles
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
C. citriodora is very similar and closely related to Corymbia maculata and C. variegata; in some classifications, they are treated as the same species. C. citriodora is distinguished by the lemon scent of the leaves. C. citriodora also differs from C. maculata in having “slightly narrower crown leaves, less mottled bark and juvenile leaves that are still setose to scabrid (feel rough) on comparatively taller coppice growth” (Slee et al., 2006). C. henryi is also similar, but has generally larger and coarser juvenile and adult leaves and larger buds and fruit (Slee et al., 2006).
ReferencesTop of page
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06/03/15 Updated by:
Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
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