Information for this profile is drawn from Australia's State of the Forests Report 2018.
Callitris trees are found only in Australia and New Caledonia with 13 of the 15 species found in Australia. Callitris trees are commonly called cypress pines because they are related to, and resemble, northern hemisphere cypresses. Although conifers, callitris trees are not true pines.
Australia has 2.0 million hectares of the Callitris forest type, which is 1.5% of Australia's total native forest area. This forest type typically grows in small patches in drier inland regions, but occasionally covers wide areas. Pure stands of callitris are generally restricted to undulating or flat land with sandy soils, or to upland rocky areas that are protected from fire. Individual callitris trees are often present in Acacia, Casuarina and Eucalypt forests with a shrubby, grassy or herb-rich understorey. Callitris is the only native forest type dominated by softwood tree species.
The name callitris is derived from the Greek words kallos (beauty) and treis (three) and refers to the arrangement of leaflets in whorls of three.
Distribution and ownership
Callitris forests occur in all states (Map 1). A total of 1.4 million hectares (69%) of the Callitris forest type is in New South Wales, mainly in the Central West and New England regions. Callitris forest also extends through Queensland’s Darling Downs and Central regions. White cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla) is widespread south of the Tropic of Capricorn, with extensive stands in inland southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. Small stands of callitris trees are found in south-western Western Australia, including the Rottnest Island pine (C. preissii), which is endemic to the region.
A total of 0.7 million hectares (37%) of Callitris forest is on leasehold land, with a further 0.7 million hectares (35%) on private land (Table 1).
A total of 1.1 million hectares (53%) of Callitris forest is open forest (Figure 1). Most species of callitris are medium-sized trees, and 1.8 million hectares (91%) of Callitris forest is medium height. Brush cypress pine (C. macleayana) can grow up to 50 metres high.
Native forest structural classes
Native forests are divided into three classes based on crown cover:
- woodland forest (20 to 50 per cent crown cover)
- open forest (>50 to 80 per cent crown cover)
- closed forest (>80 to 100 per cent crown cover).
and three classes based on mature tree height:
- low (2 to 10 metres)
- medium (>10 to 30 metres)
- tall (>30 metres).
Callitris timber is widely used for flooring, lining boards, weatherboards, interior joinery and cabinets, and fencing poles and posts. Some species of callitris, such as the Port Jackson pine (C. rhomboidea), have durable, insect-resistant wood.
Resins from callitris trees have traditionally been used by Indigenous Australians as an adhesive for attaching axe heads to handles, and barbs and tips to spears.
ABARES 2019, Forests of Australia (2018), Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
Boland, D, Brooker, M, Chippendale, G, Hall, N, Hyland, B, Johnston, R, Kleinig, D, McDonald, M & Turner, J 2006, Forest trees of Australia, 5th edn, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
Carnahan, JA 1990, Atlas of Australian resources, vol. 6, Vegetation, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
Montreal Process Implementation Group for Australia & National Forest Inventory Steering Committee 2018, Australia's State of the Forests Report 2018, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.