The part of Victoria known as the Mallee is best defined as the area where the species of eucalypts known as ‘mallees’ grow. These incredibly drought-tolerant trees are notable for having not a single trunk but rather many stems that rise from a large bulbous woody structure called a lignotuber or mallee root. The region was named by European settlers who heard Aboriginal people from the Wemba Wemba group, based along the Murray River, use the word ‘mali’ to describe the distinctive trees. The current spelling was settled upon after it appeared on a map published in 1846.
It can get confusing at times. The word can be used as an adjective to describe mallee country, which exists in north-west Victoria, southern New South Wales and the far east of South Australia, along the Great Australian Bight and in southern Western Australia. Only in Victoria, however, is there a region named with the capitalised form, the Mallee (though there is a part of South Australia called the Murray Mallee).