The Werribee River Association is delighted to report that the National Herbarium of Victoria has recently published an official description of the Werribee River catchment’s own Blue Box, Eucalyptus baueriana subsp. thalassina. Taxonomist Kevin Rule has given it the common name 'Werribee Blue Box'.
It is noted for its new summer adult ovate or roundish leaves, which give cause for the Latin word thalissinus meaning sea-green being used for its name. Vouched specimens were submitted to the Herbarium in December 2002. Plant scientists compared the local specimens and found them to be different from those already described. Seeds were collected from trees at Werribee and Bacchus Marsh and seedlings were produced to verify the new description.
These magnificent trees, which are found along the Werribee River and tributaries, grow from 3 to 12 meters. A small number can be found on rocky hills near the river. There are some on the Werribee Golf Course and one large tree at the Werribee Open Plains Zoo. A few ancient specimens have survived in the Werribee Township. More occur around Cobbledick's Ford and there are remnants upstream to Bacchus Marsh. North of Bacchus Marsh a good number occurs on the Djerriwarhrr and Coimadai Creeks and in Long Forest. A small number is found along the lower Lerderderg River.
Because the total number is estimated to be less than a few thousand, Neville Walsh Senior Conservation Botanist at the Herbarium, has classified the Werribee Blue Box as endangered under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. There is very little sign of natural regeneration of these trees except in the population around Bacchus Marsh. The Werribee Zoo has planted hundreds which were propagated from seed. In recent years the Wyndham Council has included the Werribee Blue Box in revegetation plantings near the river. Local indigenous nurseries such as Newport Lakes & Western Plains Flora now stock this plant grown from local seeds.
The Werribee River Association is working to encourage the wider knowledge of the Werribee Blue Box and its conservation within the Werribee River Catchment. This is an important part of our heritage and it highlights that there may be other unknown or unrecognised fauna and flora in the west of Melbourne.