Resolution of a 35-year taxonomic dilemma: Eucalyptus sp. Howes Swamp Creek (Myrtaceae) from eastern Wollemi National Park, New South Wales




Plant systematics, Eucalyptus, Threatened species


The identity of a population of eucalypts from Howes Swamp Creek in the eastern part of Wollemi National Park in New South Wales has remained unresolved for over 35 years. Despite several workers inspecting both the site and the trees growing there over this period, little consensus has been achieved on its taxonomic status. Various suggestions have been made that the entity was a new species with affinities to Eucalyptus dalrympleana, E. viminalis or E. bridgesiana, and at one time the unpublished manuscript name E. ‘wollemiensis’ was used. Because of the perceived small population size and threats posed by wildfire and other factors, the entity phrase name E. sp. Howes Swamp Creek (M.Doherty 26) was listed as an endangered taxon in both Commonwealth and State threatened species legislation. Our investigations over the last few years, involving field, seedling, and herbarium studies, have determined the original reference specimen designated for the phrase name is E. bridgesiana, and that the population from which the specimen was gathered comprises a hybrid swarm of E. bridgesiana × E. viminalis. Both parent species are present at the site, although the former species is seemingly very rare there. We recommend that E. sp. Howes Swamp Creek be removed from threatened species legislation, and that the names E. sp. Howes Swamp Creek (M.Doherty 26) and E. ‘wollemiensis’ ms be considered nomenclatural synonyms of E. bridgesiana.