Shrub or small tree 3–4 m; densely branched with a rounded crown. Branchlets villous, never resinous. Leaves evergreen and leathery, opposite, simple or compound with two to three (to five) leaflets; leaflets 2–4.5 × 0.3–1.2 cm, elliptic-oblong to lanceolate-oblong, upper surface dark green and glossy, lower surface glaucous, 12–20 secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins entire, apex acute; petiole 0.3–0.5 cm long, villous; stipules lanceolate, 0.4–0.6 cm long, caducous. Flowers solitary, axillary, pedunculate; peduncle densely tomentose, four to five brown bracts subtending each flower, bracts covered in silky hairs; sepals four, lanceolate, decussate, outer two densely tomentose, inner two covered with silky hairs; petals four, white, 1.2–1.5 cm long and wide; stamens numerous (~150). Capsule somewhat woody, ~1 × 0.7–0.8 cm with seven to nine valves; capsule hairy on the outside (Forster & Hyland 1997).
Distribution Australia northeastern Queensland (Mt. Bartle Frere).
Habitat Vine thickets among large granite boulders, between 1200 and 1400 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9-10
RHS Hardiness Rating H2
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
The discovery of Eucryphia wilkiei (and later E. jinksii) in Queensland extended the range of the genus into subtropical areas. This is not a good indication for hardiness, but as E. wilkiei is in cultivation both in Australasia and the UK, it has been included here. It was found in 1970 growing at the summit of Mount Bartle Frere in Queensland, at an altitude of 1200–1400 m – high enough to give a hope of hardiness. A few specimens have been attempted in our area, and there is one report of it surviving a mild winter in Northern Ireland (Seaforde Gardens 2007). Several specimens are grown in gardens in Devon and Cornwall, notably Tregrehan, but its long-term prospects have yet to be assessed. It flowers at a very young age, and resembles E. moorei in flower, but differs in the having leaves with fewer leaflets and the leaflets being of nearly equal size (TC pers. obs. 2020).
Robbie Blackhall-Miles has inadvertently grown E. wilkei in north Wales, after raising two plants from a packet of mixed seeds labelled as Nothofagus. Both thrived in pots until a particularly hot summer, when the stronger plant died. The other recovered but later succumbed to root rot; neither ever flowered. (R. Blackhall-Miles, pers. comm. 2019).
In Australia this species is considered vulnerable due to its extremely limited distribution (Department of the Environment, Water & Heritage, the Arts (Australia) 2008).