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Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest, Yaralla Estate, Concord West, NSW, 2
Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest in Concord West.

The Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest (STIF) is one of six main indigenous forest communities of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, that is typically in the Inner West region of Sydney. It is also among the three of these plant communities which have been classified as Endangered, under the New South Wales government's Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, with only around 0.5% of its original pre-settlement range remaining. As of 26 August 2005, the Australian Government reclassified Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest as a "Critically Endangered Ecological Community", under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest contains trees which are around 20–30 metres tall, with ground cover composed of flowering shrubs and native grasses. This type of forest prefers a fertile clay soil derived from shale, with undulating hills and moderate rainfall. Its range does not extend to drier Cumberland Plain Woodland, or high-rainfall ridges (where it meets with Blue Gum High Forest, also endangered), or areas with less fertile, sandy soil.

The main canopy trees in this forest community are Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera, can grow over 30 metres high), and a number of different species of Ironbark, which vary depending on local environmental conditions. Grey Ironbark (Eucalyptus paniculata), Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra), Red Ironbark or Broad-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus fibrosa), and Grey Gum (Eucalyptus punctata) are commonly found species in the Cumberland Plain area. On the shale caps of the Hornsby plateau, Grey Ironbark and Mountain Mahogany (Eucalyptus notabilis) have been noted as being found in association with Turpentine. At the upper end of its rainfall/elevation range, Turpentine-Ironbark forest may intermingle with Blue Gum High Forest and be dominated by Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna), Mountain Grey Gum (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa), Round-leaved Gum (Eucalyptus deanei) or Grey Gum.

Understorey plants include wattles such as Parramatta Green Wattle (Acacia parramattensis) and Sydney Golden Wattle (Acacia longifolia), the Common Hop Bush (Dodonaea triquetra), as well as native grasses, herbs and flowers such as Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis) and Australian Bluebell (Wahlenbergia gracilis).

Plant species growing in Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest typically number upwards of 70, although fewer species are found in the smaller surviving pockets, and some may not be visible above ground, awaiting climatic conditions favourable for seed germination.

Plant Species of Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest
Common Name Botanical Name Approx. Height Plantnet
Principal Tree Species
Turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera 30+ metres details
Grey Ironbark Eucalyptus paniculata 25–35 metres details
Associated Tree Species
Grey Box Gum, or Grey Gum Eucalyptus punctata 30–35 metres details
Woollybutt Eucalyptus longifolia 20–35 metres details
White Mahogany Eucalyptus acmenoides 25–50 metres details
Smooth-barked Apple, Sydney Red Gum, or Rusty Gum Angophora costata 15–30 metres details
Thin-leaved Stringybark Eucalyptus eugenioides 15–30 metres details
Broad-leaved, or Red Ironbark Eucalyptus fibrosa 15–35 metres details
White Stringybark Eucalyptus globoidea 15–30 metres details
Understorey Tree Species
Parramatta (Green) Wattle, or Sydney Green Wattle Acacia parramattensis 2–15 metres details
Sicle Wattle Acacia falcata 2–5 metres details
Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa 10–25 metres details
White Feather Honey-myrtle Melaleuca decora to 7 metres details
Shrub Species
Coffee Bush Breynia oblongifolia to 3 metres details
Sydney Golden Wattle Acacia longifolia to 8 metres details
Myrtle Wattle, or Red-stemmed Wattle Acacia myrtifolia 0.3–3 metres details
Sweet Bursaria, Blackthorn, or Boxthorn Bursaria spinosa to 10 metres details
Gorse Bitter-pea Daviesia ulicifolia to 2 metres details
Large Mock Olive, Large-leaved Olive Notelaea longifolia to 9 metres details
Common Hop Bush, Large-leaf Hop Bush Dodonaea triquetra to 3 metres details
Cherry Ballart, or Native Cherry Exocarpos cupressiformis to 8 metres details
Elderberry Panax (Myrsine variabilis) Rapanea variabilis - details
Yellow Pittosporum, Wild Yellow Jasmine, Rough fruit P. Pittosporum revolutum - details
Muttonwood, (Myrsine howittiana) Rapanea howittiana - details
Orange Bark, Narrow-leaved Orangebark, Orange Bush Maytenus silvestris to 4.5 metres details
Groundcover Species
Pale Vanilla Lily Arthropodium milleflorum - details
Dumplings, Apple Berry, Hairy Apple Berry Billardiera scandens to 0.5 metres details
Blue Trumpet, Blue Yam Brunoniella australis 2 cm-15 cm details
Swamp Pennywort, Indian Pennywort, Gotu Cola Centella asiatica - details
Old Man’s Beard, or Headache Vine Clematis glycinoides - details
Sedge, Slender Flat-sedge Cyperus gracilis - details
Blue Flax Lilly Dianella caerulea - details
Rare Plume Grass Dichelachne rara to 1.2 metres details
Love Grass, or Paddock Lovegrass Eragrostis leptostachya to 1 metre details
Love Creeper Glycine tabacina - details
Violet-leaved Goodenia, Forest Goodenia, Ivy Goodenia Goodenia hederacea to 80 cm details
Kangaroo Grass Themeda australis to 1.2 metres details
Australian Bluebell, or Sprawling Bluebell Wahlenbergia gracilis 5 cm-80 cm details
Wallaby Grass Danthonia linkii to 70 cm details
Wallaby Grass Danthonia racemosa - details
Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia tenuior) Danthonia tenuior to 1.1 metres details
False Sarsparilla, Purple Coral Pea, Waraburra Hardenbergia violacea - details
Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorana - details
Slender Stackhousia Stackhousia viminea to 70 cm details
Other Species
Acacia decurrensAcacia implexaAngophora floribundaAristida vagansCheilanthes sieberiClematis aristata
Clerodendrum tomentosumCommelina cyaneaCorymbia gummiferaDichondra repensDodonaea triquetraEchinopogon caespitosus
Elaeocarpus reticulatusEntolasia marginataEntolasia strictaEucalyptus resiniferaGlycine clandestinaGoodenia hederacea
Goodenia heterophyllaImperata cylindricaIndigofera australisKennedia rubicundaKunzea ambiguaLepidosperma laterale
Leucopogon juniperinusLomandra longifoliaMicrolaena stipoidesOplismenus aemulusOxalis exilisOzothamnus diosmifolius
Panicum similePittosporum undulatumPoa affinisPolyscias sambucifoliaPomax umbellataPoranthera microphylla
Pratia purpurascensPseuderanthemum variabileRubus parvifoliusSmilax glyciphyllaStipa pubescensTylophora barbata
Veronica plebeiaZieria smithii
List sources: Ryde City Council and NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.


The natural distribution of Sydney Turpentine–Ironbark Forest is limited to the Sydney Region, and occurs in areas with deep clay soils derived from Wianamatta shale, or shale layers within Hawkesbury sandstone. Occurring on plateaus and hillsides and on the margins of shale cappings over sandstone, it mainly survives today in the local government area of the City of Ryde, where it was probably once the predominant forest type in the area.

STIF grew in clay soils overlaying the sandstone of the Hornsby plateau, as well as in Sydney’s inner-west where the annual rainfall is between 900 and 1,000mm. Because the land favoured by Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest plant species is very fertile (more so than the sandy soils derived from Hawkesbury sandstone), after British settlement much of the land was cleared for its timber, as well as for subsequent farming activity. Much of this forest type's area of distribution is now occupied by suburban dwellings.

Very few remnants of Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest still exist. The most substantial undisturbed area is the Wallumatta Nature Reserve on the corner of Twin and Cressy roads North Ryde, which is owned and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Progressively smaller remnants can be found in Stewart Park, Marsfield (at the intersection of Epping and Vimiera roads), in the grounds of Macquarie University, and at Meadowbank Park, Meadowbank. Another known remnant of significance surviving in Australia is the Newington Forest near Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush. In the early 1990s, the Concord Local Council initiated a regeneration project to restore STIF bushland within the 3.5-hectare Queen Elizabeth II Park, bordered by Gipps, Broughton and Crane streets, and Addison Avenue, Concord. The project is continuing and expanding under the care of the new Canada Bay City Council and the Concord Bushcare Group. While Queen Elizabeth II Park contains a mixture of Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest and non-indigenous species, there is other Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest bushland in the City of Canada Bay area, located on the Department of Health estate surrounding Concord Hospital at Concord West. Located to the south of the main hospital, a relatively intact area of Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest species may be found in the Dame Eadith Walker Reserve at the Yaralla Estate (private grounds of the Dame Edith Walker Hospital).

Outside these few remaining areas, scattered fragments of Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest have been identified in the local government areas of Ashfield, Auburn, Canterbury, Concord, Drummoyne, Leichhardt, Marrickville, Bankstown, Ryde (Darvall Park and Brush Farm Park), Hunters Hill, Baulkham Hills, Ku-ring-gai (Sheldon Forest), Hornsby, Parramatta, Bankstown, Rockdale, Kogarah, Hurstville, and Sutherland. In heavily urbanised areas of the inner western suburbs, forest fragments can exist simply as an isolated tree belonging to a STIF species. The NSW Scientific Committee, an agency of the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change, has noted the importance of identifying these scattered forest fragments in the interest of genetic diversity, as they "may be important sources of propagation material for use in rehabilitation projects."

Ryde City Council is aware of the near-extinction of this indigenous forest environment, and requires that if any tree becomes unsafe and requires removal, that a replacement must be chosen from the list of tree species indigenous to the particular area. The council's website also encourages local residents in appropriate areas to choose trees, shrubs and ground covers indigenous to the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest.

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