Corymbia tessellaris (F.Muell.) K.D.Hill & L.A.S.Johnson, Telopea 6: 402 (1995).
Eucalyptus tessellaris F. Muell. J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 3: 88 (1859). T: between Gilbert R. and Carron R., [Qld], 1857, F.Mueller s.n.; holo: MEL; iso: BM, K.
E. viminalis Hook. in T.L.Mitchell, J. Exped. Trop. Australia 157 (1848), nom. illeg., non Labill. (1806); E. hookeri F.Muell., J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 3: 90 (1859). T: Camp XIV, Frosty Ck near Mt Abundance, [SE of Roma, Qld,] 9 May 1846, T.L.Mitchell 146; holo: K; iso: CGE, MEL, NSW.
Tree to 35 m tall. Forming a lignotuber.
Bark rough on lower 1–4 m of trunk, tessellated, dark grey to black, abruptly changing to whitish smooth bark that is sometimes powdery.
Juvenile growth (coppice or field seedlings to 50 cm): stem rounded in cross-section; juvenile leaves sessile or shortly petiolate and opposite for 7–11 nodes then alternate, lanceolate, 5.5–11 cm long, 1–2 cm wide, tapering to petiole, slightly discolorous, dull, grey-green to green; stems, petioles and midribs setose for about the first 5 nodes.
Adult leaves alternate, petiole 0.5–1.5 cm long; blade narrowly lanceolate to linear, 9–24 cm long, 0.6–2.5 cm wide, base tapering to petiole, concolorous, glossy or dull, green to grey-green, strongly penniveined, densely to very densely reticulate, intramarginal vein parallel to and just within margin, oil glands island or obscure.
Inflorescences axillary compound, peduncles 0.2–0.7 cm long; buds 3 or 7 per umbel, pedicels 0.1–0.4 cm long. Mature buds ovoid to pyriform, 0.4–0.6 cm long, 0.3–0.5 cm wide, scar present, operculum rounded and often apiculate, stamens inflexed, anthers cuboid to oblong, versatile, dorsifixed, dehiscing by longitudinal slits (non-confluent), style long, stigma tapered, locules 3, the ovules not arranged in distinct vertical rows on the placentae. Flowers white.
Fruit pedicellate (pedicels 0.1–0.3 cm long), cylindrical or urceolate, 0.6–1.2 cm long, 0.6–1 cm wide, thin-walled, disc descending, valves 3, enclosed.
Seed brown or reddish brown, 1.5–2.2 mm long, flattened or saucer-shaped, hilum ventral.
Cultivated seedlings (measured at ca node 10): cotyledons reniform to orbicular; stems rounded in cross-section, scabrid with both multicellular bristles and simple hairs; leaves shortly petiolate, opposite for ca 7 to 10 (? or more) nodes before becoming alternate, ovate to lanceolate, 4–12 m long, 1.5–4.5 cm wide, base tapering, margin entire, apex pointed, slightly discolorous, green, paler beneath; lamina slightly scabrid with similar hairs to stems.
A small to tall ghost gum tree widespread in north-eastern Australia from north and north-west of Narrabri in New South Wales, over much of eastern Queensland from Charleville to the tip of Cape York Peninsula where a tree of this species is the northernmost eucalypt on the Australian mainland. It also occurs on some islands in Torres Strait and in southern New Guinea. It prefers plains and very gently undulating terrain on a variety of soil types. Corymbia tessellaris is recognised by the compound axillary inflorescences with an expanded rhachis, thin-walled fruit and is notable for its distinctive stocking of tessellated bark over part of the trunk abruptly changing to smooth white above. It has a crown of fully adult lanceolate smooth (non-setose) leaves.
Corymbia tessellaris is very similar to C. bella, a completely smooth-barked tree common from the Gulf of Carpentaria hinterland west through the Top End of the Northern Territory to Broome and Derby in Western Australia, on floodplains. Within the natural range of Corymbia tessellaris there are two other ghost gum species with a crown of fully adult leaves, viz. C. dallachiana, which differs in having smooth bark and a condensed inflorescence, and C. grandifolia subsp. grandifolia, which also has smooth bark, glossy green leaves much larger than those of C. tessellaris and a condensed inflorescence rhachis. Other ghost gum species with distributions that overlap that of Corymbia tessellaris, are C. confertiflora and C. disjuncta, both of which have ovate-cordate crown leaves that are sparsely to densely setose, and condensed inflorescences.
Flowering has been recorded in July, August, October, November, December and January.