Shrub 1–6 m tall; densely branched with a rounded crown. Branchlets villous, never resinous. Leaves evergreen and leathery, opposite, simple or compound with two to three (to five) leaflets; leaflets 2–5 × 0.3–1.5 cm, elliptic-oblong to lanceolate-oblong, upper surface dark green and glossy, lower surface glaucous, 12–20 secondary veins on each side of the midvein, margins entire, apex acute; petiole 0.3–0.5 cm long, villous; stipules lanceolate, 0.4–0.6 cm long, caducous. Flowers solitary, axillary, pedunculate; peduncle densely tomentose, four to five brown bracts subtending each flower, bracts covered in silky hairs; sepals four, lanceolate, decussate, outer two densely tomentose, inner two covered with silky hairs; petals four, white, 1.2–1.5 cm long and wide; stamens numerous (~150). Capsule somewhat woody, ~1 × 0.7–0.8 cm with seven to nine valves; capsule hairy on the outside. (Forster & Hyland 1997).
Distribution Australia northeastern Queensland (Mt. Bartle Frere).
Habitat In thickets among large granite boulders in exposed, windswept positions between 1200 and 1500 m asl.
USDA Hardiness Zone 9-10
RHS Hardiness Rating H2
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Eucryphia wilkei was discovered in cloud forest on the upper slopes of Mount Bartle Frere in northeastern Queensland, Australia, in 1970, but it would take the discovery of Eucryphia populations in southeastern Queensland and adjacent New South Wales (E. jinksii) in the early 1990s to demonstrate the distinctiveness of both. The two species were described to science in the same paper as recently as 1997 (Forster & Hyland 1997).
These discoveries extended the range of the genus into subtropical areas. While this is not a good indication for hardiness, E. wilkiei is thriving in a few gardens in very mild parts of the UK and Ireland, notably Tregrehan in Cornwall, although E. jinksii remains more or less untested. Cultivated plants apparently flower from a very young age, perhaps a product of vegetative propagation, and closely resemble E. moorei in flower but differ in the foliage, having leaves with fewer leaflets and the leaflets being of nearly equal size, not increasing in size up the rachis as in E. moorei and E. jinksii, but it must be stressed that the cultivated population represents a very narrow sampling of wild diversity and these traits may not be typical of the species overall (pers. obs. 2020).
Robbie Blackhall-Miles has inadvertently grown E. wilkei in north Wales after raising two plants from a packet of mixed seed received as Nothofagus. Both thrived in pots until a particularly hot summer, when the stronger plant died. The other recovered but later succumbed to root rot; neither ever flowered (R. Blackhall-Miles, pers. comm. 2019).
In Australia E. wilkei is considered vulnerable due to its extremely limited distribution (Grimshaw & Bayton 2009).