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Tree to 15 m. Bark smooth, white or grey and powdery throughout; shedding in short ribbons or large plates. Branchlets reddish green. Juvenile leaves alternate and petiolate, glaucous. Adult leaves thin, dull green or greyish green, 8–14 × 1–2 cm, lanceolate, falcate, lateral veins indistinct, margins entire, apex acute; petiole 1–1.5 cm long. Inflorescences solitary and axillary; umbellasters with 7–11 flowers. Flower buds ovoid and glaucous; hypanthium 0.3–0.4 cm wide; stamens white or cream. Capsule globose or ovoid, 0.5–0.6 cm diameter; valves three to four, exserted. Chippendale 1988. Distribution AUSTRALIA: New South Wales (Central Tablelands). Habitat Dry, sclerophyllous woodland on shallow, sandy soils. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Not evaluated. Taxonomic note EUCLID3 (2006) treats this as E. mannifera subsp. praecox.
The Gum Group (2007) considers Eucalyptus praecox to be ‘interesting and decorative’ but not very hardy (less so than its relative E. elliptica) – a view that seems to be borne out by the absence of any large specimens in cultivation in our area. Young trees of 3–4 m in southern England are the largest known to members of the Group. Young trees at Lullingstone were killed by the November frost in 2005. The attractiveness of E. praecox emanates both from its good bark characters and its foliage, which can vary considerably in colour from dull green to rather bluish when mature, but emerges red. This is a species that deserves further experimentation and selection of the best hardy forms.