Plant secondary chemistry mediates the ability of herbivores to locate, accept and survive on potential host plants. We examined the relationship between attack by the cerambycid beetle Phoracantha solida and the chemistry of the secondary phloem (inner bark) of two differentially attacked plantation forestry taxa, Corymbia variegata and its hybrid with C. torelliana. We hypothesised that this differential rate of attack may have to do with differences in secondary chemistry between the taxa. We found differences in the bark chemistry of the taxa, both with respect to phenolic compounds and terpenoids. We could detect no difference between bored and non-bored C. variegata trees (the less preferred, but co-evolved host). Hybrid trees were not different in levels of total polyphenols, flavanols or terpenes according to attack status, but acetone extracts were significantly different between bored and non-bored trees. We propose that variations in the bark chemistry explain the differential attack rate between C. variegata and the hybrid hosts.