Common name: River Sheoak
River Sheoak has been widely planted in Melbourne, and many assume that it is indigenous to this general region; in fact, C. cunninghamiana originates north of Melbourne, and is most common in NSW and southern Queensland.
In Melbourne, C. cunninghamiana is a highly successful, tall, narrow evergreen tree that will grow on many various sites, as long as waterlogging is not constant. There are many established specimens in Melbourne that show that River Sheoak will survive on heavy clay soils (in areas such as Balwyn and Richmond) or sands (in the sandbelt of the southern suburbs). Typically it grows to between 15-20m tall, is up to 6m wide and forms a strong, buttressed trunk. The root systems of C. cunninghamiana are vigorous and matted, and it can be difficult to grow turf or other plants under these trees.
River Sheoak will form a picturesque, shaggy tree within 10 years of planting, with the elegant, strongly pendulous branchlets to 15cm. It looks best when planted in groves, clumps or as a screening plant. It responds well to pruning, and can be coppiced each 5+ years to form a dense screen.
Although not indigenous to Melbourne C. cunninghamiana is a valuable tree for nature-like landscapes. It is highly successful either as a clump-growing display tree or as a screen.
Typical mature height: in Melbourne to 20m
Useful in: streetscapes, avenues, mass plantings
Sites for best growth: reasonably well-drained