Give me a throne among the gum trees – river red gum crowned Australia’s favourite tree!

ABC projects, National Science Week

Snow gum and ghost gum close behind

National poll ranks Australia’s 33 favourite native trees

Over 265,000 votes cast throughout August

Media contacts: Laura Boland,,

0408 166 426; or Jane Watkins,,

0425 803 204

More about the winners at:

Australians have chosen the river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) as their favourite native tree in ABC’s national poll.

“The river red gum is the perfect Australian tree. No two trees are the same, and each has its own personality. I love the way the twisted limbs, the gnarly hollows and dead wood, and all the scars and broken branches reflect a tough life but one well lived,” says Professor Tim Entwisle, botanist and Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

With a widespread distribution across Australia, river red gums provide shade along inland waterways. Forests of these trees also contain significant Aboriginal sites.

“These trees are used by First Nations People to make canoes, shields, coolamons and other tools. First Nations People burn the leaves, and the smoke is inhaled to help relieve coughs and colds,”says Renee Cawthorne, Project Manager of the Aboriginal Strategy and First Nations Engagement, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Gum trees rated highly in the poll with second and third place going to the much-loved:

  • snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora), found in eastern Australia. Their twisty limbs are often a result of harsh alpine conditions they call home.
  • ghost gum (Corymbia aparrerinja), with their smooth, white bark and cream flowers, these majestic giants stand solitary in open woodland of Central Australia.

Over 265,000 votes were cast during August to select the most loved native trees from a diverse list of 33 from across the country.

“My campaign #gobunya was spectacularly unsuccessful, but bunya pine will always remain a personal favourite, alongside mountain ash, Moreton Bay fig, Wollemi pine and pretty much every one of Australia’s 3,200 tree species!” says Tim. “I’m secretly delighted that the river red gum topped the popular poll. It was one of the two finalists we chose for the ABC Catalyst special, and sits comfortably alongside that show’s winner, the mighty mountain ash.”

The ABC Catalyst two-part special ‘Australia’s Favourite Tree’ is available to watch on ABC iview. Dr Ann Jones and Paul West travel around Australia telling the stories of eight remarkable trees from across our vast and varied landscape, then a panel of expert judges crown their favourite.

Australia’s Favourite Tree poll has been the online project for National Science Week 2022, undertaken by ABC Science with funding through the Australian Government’s Inspiring Australia strategy. The poll has been open throughout August, and featured an initial line-up of 33 trees chosen by ABC’s panel of tree experts.

Talent available for interviews

Millie Ross is a professional horticulturist, garden designer, writer, researcher, and presenter with Gardening Australia. An innovative gardener with an unconventional approach, Millie specialises in creative construction and using plants in unusual ways. Author of The Thrifty Gardener; a practical guide to building the garden you want with whatever you’ve got, Millie aims to get everyone planting, growing and celebrating trees!

Professor Tim Entwisle is a botanist, author, scientific communicator and Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. He presented Talking Plants on ABC radio, is a regular contributor to the ABC radio program Blueprint for Living, and writes articles for Gardening Australia.

Renee Cawthorne, Project Manager of the Aboriginal Strategy and First Nations Engagement, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney.

Dr Jonathan Webb is ABC’s Science Editor, a science journalist and broadcaster. He manages the team of specialist journalists and producers working across radio, podcasts and the web — including those recently dedicated to the nationwide search to find Australia’s Favourite Tree.

Media contacts:

  • Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426
  • Jane Watkins, or 0425 803 204


Australia’s Favourite Trees: ranked in order

  1. River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)
  2. Snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora)
  3. Ghost gum (Corymbia aparrerinja)
  4. Moreton Bay fig (Ficus macrophylla)
  5. Mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans)
  6. Boab (Adansonia gregorii)
  7. Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor)
  8. Red flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia)
  9. Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius)
  10. Golden wattle (Acacia pycnantha)
  11. Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii)
  12. Gungurru (Eucalyptus caesia)
  13. Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis)
  14. Sydney red gum (Angophora costata)
  15. Paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia)
  16. Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)
  17. Bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii)
  18. Deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii)
  19. Weeping bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis)
  20. Macadamia tree (Macadamia integrifolia)
  21. Queensland bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris)
  22. Red cedar (Toona ciliata)
  23. Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon)
  24. River sheoak (Casuarina cunninghamiana)
  25. Coastal tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum)
  26. Quandong (Santalum acuminatum)
  27. Grey mangrove (Avicennia marina)
  28. Cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla)
  29. Coolabah (Eucalyptus coolabah)
  30. Queensland kauri (Agathis robusta)
  31. Mulga wattle (Acacia aneura)
  32. Darwin woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata)
  33. Red cabbage palm (Livistona mariae

Quotes from tree experts available for media use

Quote attributed to Millie Ross, presenter, ABC’s Gardening Australia

“I am so heartened that Australia took the tree poll so deeply into their hearts, I think the big winner was TREES! The river red gum was always going to be a front runner, such a widespread species yet so uniquely adapted to each place. I think that every landscape within which they occur, is somewhat defined by them. They are such cornerstone species for the ecosystem, as well as the communities around them. To see the snow and ghost gums also score so highly is also a vote for the incredible places that they represent. There is no doubting that Australia is home to plants unique in the world. What a treat it has been to consider, debate and celebrate them!”

Quote attributed to Geoff Booth, Manager Operations, Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, SA.

“I love trees and especially large gnarly old growth Eucalyptus because they have character; just like an old wine, they get better with age. The older they get, the more they can provide – habitat, water retention, shade and protection.”

Quote attributed to Professor Tim Entwisle, Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

At last, trees are given the same respect as the birds that perch in them! This is a celebration of the many roles native trees play in our lives – from home and habitat for wildlife through to the clean air and oxygen we all need to survive. Essential to life, and beautiful too.”

Quotes attributed to John Arnott, Manager Horticulture at Australian Native Garden, Vic.

“Trees have an important role of sequestering carbon in the atmosphere, and store vast amounts of carbon for centuries. They also provide the food, shelter and homes for so much of our native wildlife.”

“It’s almost impossible to see a ‘perfect’ Eucalyptus leaf – there are scars from invertebrate grazing, chewing and sucking, and there are the tell-tale signs of possum or koala browsing. It’s a food source. But overseas, Eucalypt trees present very differently because their leaves are close to perfect – there are different or fewer insects, birds and mammals that eat them.”

“There’s a tree that I cycle past every day on my way to work, a Red Gum. I’ve looked at it consciously for 35 years. It fell over in a storm perhaps 50 years earlier (or more) and is now resting in a paddock on the ground. It is lying horizontal but still has some connectivity to the ground through a slither of the trunk and its roots. It has been throwing up new shoots and has persisted. Its resilience is remarkable.”

Quotes attributed to Peter Feilen, Horticulturist, Australian National Botanic Gardens, ACT.

In an urban context, trees reduce noise pollution; reduce summer heat; reduce air pollution; and soften the visuals of a hard urban landscape. A direct correlation between trees and an improved level of general and mental health has also been found.

“Personally, as an arborist and botanical gardens horticulturist I am privileged to have a very close relationship with trees; propagating, growing, planting and even climbing, which I probably love the most.”

“Trees will continue to play an important role mitigating climate change, by absorbing carbon to make wood. However, trees are also victims of climate change and other human activity, such as development and introduction of invasive species and diseases. They need our help.”

“In the 2015 Global Tree Assessment it was found that 30 per cent of tree species are threatened with extinction, and at least 142 tree species are recorded as extinct. Essentially, the message is that we need trees and trees need us.”