Red Flowering Gum

Corymbia ficifolia (Syn. Eucalyptus ficifolia)

Family: Myrtaceae     Origin: South Coastal Western Australia
Native to a very small area of south coastal Western Australia, the aesthetics of the red flowering gum have made it one of the most widely planted landscape and garden trees around the world in subtropical and tropical areas.

Despite its popularity, it’s not considered an endangered or threatened tree in Australia, nor is it an invasive pest in other areas beyond its native range. Well behaved, tough, and beautiful throughout the entire year, red flowering gum is a wonderful addition to any space, garden, or landscape. There are plenty of trees that are grown for their ornamental value and there are certainly favorites endemic to specific areas all over the world.

The Midwest of the United States seems to be happily populated with flowering crab apples and lilacs. In many areas in Europe, flowering cherries and lindens are popular. In Japan, fancy-leaved Japanese maples are valued as much as cherries and plums and both hold significant meaning. Here in Australia, the red flowering gum, or Corymbia ficifolia is a much appreciated and ornamental staple tree that for many people holds significant nostalgic value. It’s a favorite of many. And in terms of popular ornamental trees around the world, the red flowering gum is a beauty unto itself with unique form and colour.

Growth Form

Red Flowering Gum rarely reaches above 9 metres, and is considered a smaller tree. It can have a considerable spread depending on its form, some rounding out at over 5 metres. They can be multi-trunked but are often pruned early on and encouraged to grow a single trunk. The tree is short of trunk and has a large spreading thick canopy when young, and as it ages it tends to have an upside down broom-shape, with branches reaching up and out while still spreading wide. The texture of the branches and trunk are gnarled and unique, and thick in appearance.


Grey in colour, the trunk itself is usually the shortest part of the tree. Large thick branches reach out early from the trunk of this tree. The base is usually wide and gnarled with a thick root structure at the base of the trunk sometimes visible in older specimens. The bark is messy looking and full of cracks and bumps. On older trees, moss and lichens adorn its bark.


red flowering gum flowersThe most memorable part of the Red Flowering Gum is of course, its flowering. Most ornamental trees around the world bloom in whites and pinks. Red flowering gum blooms in the early summer instead in brilliant hot scarlet, red, and red-orange with chartreuse centers. Before blooming, pink buds are formed in clusters in heavy abundance. The open flowers have thin and fuzzy petals neatly ringing their chartreuse centers. The flowers are beautifully scented and very attractive to pollinators and wildlife.


Truly evergreen technically, Red Flowering Gum does go through a yearly refresh of its foliage. The leaves have a silvery blue cast which is very attractive behind the bright hot red foliage. Leaves are lancolate and usually are matte in texture. Mature leaves are thick. Ficifolia is Latin for fig leaves, named for their questionable resemblance to Ficus species.


The seed pods are brown and somewhat round or urn-shaped. The seed inside are winged and brown. They have among the largest gum nuts of any Corymbia/Eucalyptus species.

red flowering gum nuts


Typically, red flowering gum is started from fully mature and ripe seed planted right away from the parent tree and is germinated readily. Sometimes grafted and layered, because it grows so quickly when young and starts easily from seed it’s usually propagated from seed.


Red flowering gums grow well in any soil as long as it drains freely. In fact, it tends to be healthier in poor soils and nutrient deficient land. It prefers full sun exposure, but does fine against a building with some shade when young. And when this tree is young, it grows fast. Because of this, a good pruning routine is necessary early on to encourage red flowering gum trees to grow to their best form and potential, without risk of harm to itself or nearby structures. Generally, nursery grown stock is all grown with a single trunk from early on and this form should be encouraged as it matures. It’s not a tree that has destructive roots and does well around buildings and hardscape landscaping. It’s also tolerant of city life and does fine in urban gardens, parks, and roadsides.

Some care should be taken to plant Red Flowering Gum trees in areas where their nuts, spent foliage, and flowers will make a mess. The nut is somewhat large and apparently people have been known to trip over them on the sidewalk. The flowers have copious amounts of sweet and sticky nectar in them which can make a sticky mess on vehicles and buildings. And while this tree is technically evergreen, it does shed older leaves yearly and therefore can be somewhat messy in that regard. Generally however, despite these seemingly downfalls to the very picky, red flowering gums are welcome and their messes are happily ignored or cleaned up without a lot of fuss.

28 thoughts on “Red Flowering Gum”

  1. Those looking for these trees in North Brisbane, I have sourced them as tube stock from C.R.E.E.C (Caboolture Region Environmental Education Centre) Nursery. They are on Rowley road at Burpengary.

  2. Hi there, I have a small front yard at the beach, in Tannum Sands on the Central Qld coast. I would like to plant Corymbia Ficifolia ‘ Mini Red’ as a specimen but not sure if it would survive the humidity. Could you please advise me regarding this before I invest in one. Many thanks. Margy

  3. Hi im philip live in perth wa my wife and I have a flowering red gum as a lot of people have said it is a beautiful tree , we didnt purchase this one the council planted it on the nature reserve maybe ten years
    Ago. As has been said it leaves a mess , but small price to pay.our tree is ar the moment approximately 30ft high and still sprouting

    cheers phil

  4. Hi, I’ve had my red flowering gum for a little under two years, through one whole summer. The tree has grown and looks healthy and well however it hasn’t flowered yet. Coming into spring now and coming up to my second summer with the tree, I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to improve the chances of it flowering? I’ve done a bit of research and can’t seem to find any reason as to why it’s not yet flowered, either. Thanks for your help.

  5. Hi
    We have 2 Orange Splendour (I think) flowering gums trees in our back yard (Belmont – Lake Macquaire NSW) which are now about 5 – 6 meters tall. They both flower profusely during summer but we have noticed this Autum they have lost a lots of leaves and are starting to look very staggley and bare. We’ve never really pruned them after flowering which I am now reading that we should do. Is it too late to prune them now and how hard should we prune them back????. We don’t want to lose too much height as we have lots of possums that visit us every night in these trees.
    Any info and help would be much appreciated.

  6. Hi red flowering red gum tree lovers. Where can I buy a dwarf grafted flowering red gum. I’m in north Brisbane. Barb

    1. Barb, have just seen your post. After paying silly prices at the local nursery & that big box store (who I have determined sell grafted trees from Victoria which is possibly why they failed here) I have located two wholesale nurseries at Elimbah that sell the Corymbia ficifolia at reasonable prices. ‘Greenstock’ where you have to order & pay before collection & Rutters Road where Julie or Paul will look after you on site. Best to contact them before visiting to ensure that they have the stock you want as they are primarily selling to landscapers & retail nurseries. Say Ross from Bribie sent you. (I have no connection with either business.)

      1. Hi Ross
        I just saw that you are on Bribie Island. I live here as well and bought a grafted dwarf orange flowering gum about 5 years. Its now about 2.5m tall and looking very healthy in a sunny corner of the garden, but has not flowered yet. I would have thought by now it would have begun flowering but no signs again this summer. Should i be expecting flowers by now and if so what could I do to encourage flowering.
        Many thanks David

    2. Hi,
      Late to reply but only just reading post. I purchased my Baby Scarlet from the Redcliffe Garden Centre in Clontarf. I think I paid approx $60.
      I am reading posts because I have spotty leaves. The new growth looks healthy but I’d really like to know the cause & how to fix the problem if it starts to happen again.
      Can anyone offer advice or suggestions?

  7. I’m from Geelong… One of my all time favorite tree grows in my backyard, my uncle grafted 2 red flower tree together and planted around 1967. The tree is massive over 12mts high and more than 12 mt wide, the trunk measured across over 1.8mts wide. My tree still standing, every late summer, flowers blooms attracting colourful native birds, bees, possums and fruit bats!

    1. It sounds beautiful, Ross. If I make it down your way I’d like to stop in.

      Nowadays most red flowering gum cultivars sold in nurseries are dwarf varieties.

      1. Hi David
        Sorry for long delayed to write to you… You’re welcome to visit my place to see the tree. Send you picture in your email.

  8. Hello David, thank you for your blog. Very useful information. I am looking to plant some more flowering gums on my property in northern Brisbane for bees (I am looking to start keeping bees). I read somewhere that bloodwood trees produce a nectar that ferments in the hive. Given that the flowering gum is a Coryimba genus, does that make it fall into the bloodwod category? Also, I have a very large flowering gum (a beautiful specimen tree) that produces a cream coloured flower, and it attracts millions of bees when in flower, so it obviously has significant nectar flow.

    1. It’s a problem for Corymbia torreliana, cadaghis, but not a known-issue for this species, Bernard. Even if it was, the proportion of nectar collected from this species compared to cadaghis is likely to be small considering both the number of cadaghis and their size.

    1. Hi, I’ve just sighted a dwarf Corymbia red in Perth and wondering if it will grow in Hervey Bay and where I could source it in QLD.

      1. Hi Wendie. I know Neilson’s Native Nursery in Brisbane stock them. Sorry, I don’t know about freight to Hervey Bay.

  9. hi , thanks for the blog. Its great to hear from someone with a lot of field experience sharing knowledge to promote good choices when dealing with trees. A local town near me has planted these gums and they seem to be going okay and glad to hear that is your experience. They certainly flower young, hope the council / power line workers dont end up hacking them to pieces down the track !!. One east coast alternative to this tree that I would like to see planted more is Angophora hispida, but maybe its not so good as more of a spreading / mallee form and not sure how it would cope as a street tree, but good tree as large flower, nice juvenile foliage…., cheers BW

  10. Malcolm McDonald

    We have a red flowering gum on our nature strip in Burwood Melbourne. It has all the great attributes described, as well as the series of seed and leaf clean ups which can be a bit of a pain. It is a beautiful tree that brings the birds when in flower, and great shade in Summer. The trunk has been expanding for years so that at ground level, it is almost the width of the nature strip. Is this unique ? I have never seen another flowering gum with such a wide trunk.

    1. I think that’s pretty awesome, Malcolm. I would imagine your red flowering gum to be of quite an age. There are some very large, beautiful flowering gums along Jetty Rd in Rosebud. I live in Leongatha and we have a few large ones here too.

  11. In curiosity how well does this plant do in Brisbane region? I have read that it can have trouble on the east coast region due to humidity and is their particular cultivars that do well in this region. I did see it in a nursery recently but I didn’t think to check out what cultivar it was. Looks to me like a beautiful Western Australian plant sometimes jealous of some of their native flowering plants.

    1. Hi Brenton.

      I agree, I’m envious of WA flowering natives also.

      Most C. ficifolias, red flowering gums, sold through nurseries in Qld have been grafted onto C. maculata rootstock. It greatly helps their hardiness but we still don’t quite achieve the results of the tree in its native conditions.

  12. Like traveling via computer, lovely blog to find. One day I hope to travel to Australia and plan to do so in your spring and summer so I can look at all the plants.

  13. Carolyn van Poppel

    This tree is my favourite tree as well. There is one in our driveway and though not tall, rewards us with flowers in the autumn each year. The flowers are usually covered with native bees, which is a great thing. This West Australian native seems to do well here in Victoria.

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