Sydney Red Gums – Angophora costata

Back to West Pymble this afternoon, to visit an old family friend. Before visiting, we walked along a bit of the Great North Walk, coming in from the bottom of Gloucester Avenue.

Right now, these trees are shedding a lot of bark:

We rather thought this one resembled a creature of some sort, though perhaps the angle doesn’t quite do it justice:


The so-called Sydney Red Gum is also known as the Smooth-barked Apple Gum – the first name, after all, really just means it is the red “gum” which is found in Sydney: its range is much wider. I’m guessing, even with little latin and less greek, that the “costa” in “costata” is the same in WS Gilbert’s line: “When the coster’s finished jumping on his mother” – apple sellers in London being thought of at the time as a particularly rough trade blending seamlessly into the criminal underclasses. Even such a man, as the sergeant of police rather resentfully points out, loves to lie a-basking in the sun when not engaged in his employment.

See Wanderer’s comment. This is what I think he is referring to, at Clifton Gardens. The exposed headland site leads to a different tree shape but I think it’s still the same tree, apples or no:

4 Responses to “Sydney Red Gums – Angophora costata

  1. ken n Says:

    Nice work M. But they do photograph well, don’t they?

  2. marcellous Says:

    And now is the time of year when they take on their rufous hue.

  3. wanderer Says:

    Your etymological story telling is wonderful and while not wishing to discourage any future flights, I should report that my sources say the latin root (costa = rib) refers to the ribs on the outside of the (fruit) capsules. (Medical usage is costal margin)

    I absolutely love them and those photos. They were once very prolific on the northern slopes of Sydney Harbour – Cremorne, Clifton Gardens etc. A cluster has just been planted in Centennial Park not far in from the Paddington Gates, despite being legendary branch droppers.

  4. marcellous Says:

    That not-so-old stand-by Wikipedia says of “costermonger:”

    “The term, now often used to describe street vendors in general,[2] is derived from the words costard (a type of large ribbed apple) and monger, i.e. seller.”

    So I think we are still singing from the same song sheet, even if being called an apple gum has nothing at all to do with it.

    [Low growl: “nappy one” from the gentlemen on a low F.]

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