Southwest Australia is a biodiversity hotspot, with greatest plant species diversity on the most severely phosphorus (P)-impoverished soils. Here, non-mycorrhizal species with highly-effective carboxylate-releasing P-acquisition strategies coexist with mycorrhizal species that are less effective at accessing P on these soils. Non-mycorrhizal carboxylate-releasing species facilitate P acquisition of mycorrhizal neighbours that are better defended against pathogens. In the Southwest Australian Biodiversity Hotspot, there are also ‘cool spots’ of low-diversity tall mycorrhizal Eucalyptus communities on P-impoverished soils. These Eucalyptus trees obviously do not require facilitation of their P acquisition by carboxylate-releasing neighbours, because these are only a minor component of the low-diversity communities. We hypothesised that in low-diversity tall Eucalyptus forests, mycorrhizal species release carboxylates to acquire P. Thus, they would not depend on facilitation, and must be strong competitors. However, because they would not depend on external mycorrhizal hyphae to acquire P, they would also not be able to access soil organic nitrogen (N), for which they would need external hyphae.