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Facts about the Eucalyptus Tree - Description and Uses

Updated on May 1, 2016
Eucalyptus regnans
Eucalyptus regnans | Source

Eucalyptus trees are evergreen trees. They are one amongst the oldest trees that existed on earth about 50 million years ago. Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia and are also referred to as “gum trees”.

Eucalyptus trees belong to the Eucalyptus genus and have more than 600 species. They can grow up to a height ranging from 30 -300 feet tall. They belong to the Myrtle family.

They are cultivated in the tropical and sub-tropical regions in Australia, America, Europe, India, Africa, Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea.

Characteristics of the Eucalyptus Tree

Eucalyptus trees are usually single-stemmed. Some trees branch out after growing a short distance from the ground.

Eucalyptus trees referred to as “Mallees” are multi-stemmed from ground level. They are usually about 10 m in height. Some of the Mallees grow very close to the ground resembling shrubs.

The bark of the Eucalyptus tree varies with the age of the tree. Every year the trunk of the Eucalyptus tree grows an extra layer that increases the thickness of the trunk. The older layer dies and is shed off slowly.

In many species, the dead bark is retained. The outermost layer of the dead bark weathers down gradually giving a different texture to the bark as they shed off.

Stringybark – This bark has long strips of the dead trunk which can be easily peeled off.

Ironbark – This bark is deeply fissured and very hard. The sap oozes out through these cracks and dries on the bark that gives the appearance of a dark red to black color to the trunk.

Tessellated – This bark is broken up into many distinct flakes.

Eucalyptus regnans (Australian Mountain Ash) is the tallest of all the flowering plants in the world.

Eucalyptus trees that exceed 80 m in height are – Eucalyptus oblique, Eucalyptus delegatensis, Eucalyptus diversicolor, Eucalyptus nitens, Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus viminalis.

Eucalyptus trees do not grow very well in cold climates. They can only tolerate cold temperature up to -5 degrees centigrade. Eucalyptus pauciflora is an exception and can grow in temperatures as low as -20 degrees centigrade.

Leaves of the Eucalyptus trees are long, narrow and leathery covered with oil glands. The leaves are arranged opposite to one another in pairs. The consecutive pairs are at right angles to each other. Each leaf has a small stalk called the petiole.

Flowers of the Eucalyptus tree are unique. They do not have any petals but are covered by feather-like stamens that may be white, pink, yellow or red in color.

The fruit is surrounded by a woody, cup-shaped receptacle that contains many seeds.

Many of Eucalyptus trees have lignotubers on the crown of their roots. The lignotubers store food and can sprout new shoots. Eucalyptus trees can grow back easily after forest fires due to these lignotubers that lie buried deep in the soil and are not affected by the forest fires.

One significant disadvantage of the Eucalyptus trees - On warm sunny days the Eucalyptus oil on the leaves vaporizes and reaches the upper layer of the atmosphere. Eucalyptus oil is highly flammable and due to this reason it very easy for forest fires to spread out from one tree to another and cause significant damage.

Flowers of the Eucalyptus Tree
Flowers of the Eucalyptus Tree | Source
Leaves of the Eucalyptus Tree
Leaves of the Eucalyptus Tree | Source

The many uses of the Eucalyptus tree

Medicinal uses

1. Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves by steam distillation. This oil is anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, antiseptic, antispasmodic and has other medicinal uses. Eucalyptus oil is colorless with a distinct taste and odor.

2. Eucalyptus oil is used in many medicines to treat a cough and cold. It is also used in lozenges, rubs, cough syrups, and vapor baths. Eucalyptus globulus trees are a primary source from which Eucalyptus oil is extracted.

3. Vapor rubs containing Eucalyptus oil are used to relieve congestion.

4. The oil is also used to loosen phlegm and relieve nasal congestion during steam inhalation.

5. Eucalyptus oil is rich in an antiseptic called cineole. Cineole kills bacteria that causes bad breath and is used in antiseptic mouthwashes.

6. It is rubbed on the knees and joints to relieve arthritis.

7. Eucalyptus oil is also used in aromatherapy.

Other uses

  • Eucalyptus trees are used to produce pulpwood. This pulpwood is used to make fine papers and soft tissue papers.
  • Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus grandis are mostly used to make paper because their fibers are short in length and are less coarse and uniform.
  • Eucalyptus oil is used in many insect repellents.
  • Koala bears eat all parts of the Eucalyptus trees.
  • The bark of the Eucalyptus trees is used to make digeridoos, a traditional Aboriginal wind instrument.
  • All parts of the Eucalyptus trees are used to make dyes that are used on wool and silk fibers.
  • The wood of a Eucalyptus tree commonly known as “Jarrah” is very durable, fire and worm resistant. It is used to make boats, piers, furniture, flooring, telephone poles, tool handles, etc.
  • Eucalyptus trees draw tremendous water from the ground. They have been planted to lower the water table.

Eucalyptus is truly a wonder tree with many uses and great benefits.

How to prepare Eucalyptus oil at home

Eucalyptus Oil - A natural bug repellent

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    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 6 months ago from Dubai

      srsddn thank you for your visit and comments. The fragrance and medicinal properties of the Eucalyptus tree are amazing.

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 6 months ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Very informative Hub, Vellur. I have seen thousands of eucalyptus tree in Punjab. Many farmer used to grow these, specially around the boundaries of their lands. However, popularity of these trees have come down as it is felt that the water level has gone down over years in Punjab. I liked the fragrance of these trees. Your description about the usage of these trees has added to my knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Kerry43 Australia is a beautiful place. I have been using Eucalyptus oil from the time when I was small. It has a great healing smell. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us.

    • profile image

      Kerry43 4 years ago

      One of my favorite scents ever. Having grown up in the Aussie bush, I could almost smell these beautiful gums as I read your article. No better smell in the world than a good old forest of gums after the rain.

      Thanks :)

      Kerry

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Livertis Steele thank you once again.

    • Levertis Steele profile image

      Levertis Steele 5 years ago from Southern Clime

      Interesting and informative!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Vellur, yes these trees are water guzzlers, but still useful. They are useful when you want to clear up a water logged area and for their medicinal properties. Thank you for your vote and insightful comments.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Vellur, outstanding hub. You have traced out the history, characteristics and the uses of the Eucalyptus tree so well.

      One thing I'd to mention here is that these trees are water guzzlers in that wherever they are planted the water level goes down. Hence most of the trees that were planted in Punjab years ago have been cut down.

      This doesn't detract from its usefulness though.

      Voted up and all the way across.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Kelleyward thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      Docmo thank you for your appreciation and vote.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      I love the smell of Eucalyptus.we used to crush the leaves and smell the oily essence. IT has such wonderful medicinal properties- you have done a detailed, well written hub Nithya- voted up!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Wow I love the smell of Eucalyptus! Thanks for sharing this hub. Voted up and Shared! Take care, Kelley

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      snowdrops thank you for your wonderful comments.

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Your writings inspired us. Keep it up. This is a great hub with so much info. Thanks!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      glmclendon thank you, am happy this hub brought to light many facts.

    • glmclendon profile image

      glmclendon 5 years ago

      Vellur, you opened many interesting facts I didnot know. thanks for all this info.

      Stay Well

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      KatrineDalMonte thank you, Eucalyptus trees are great to have around. You will soon have three Eucalyptus trees!!

      Deborah Brooks thank you for your wonderful comments and vote.

      Tonipet thank you, am happy you found my hub useful and interesting. Thank you for your lovely comments and votes.

      MazioCreate Australia is really beautiful, thank you for your insightful comments and vote.

    • MazioCreate profile image

      MazioCreate 5 years ago from Brisbane Queensland Australia

      I love these trees and living in sub-tropical Australia I get to see them all around. There is a beautiful specimen in my neighbours yard. Alloporus mentioned how these trees survive bushfires, fire is also necessary for some types of Eucalyptus to germinate. The heat from the fire is the "cue" for regeneration. Voted up!

    • Tonipet profile image

      Tonette Fornillos 5 years ago from The City of Generals

      You always give us info about some important things to know about. I've heard a lot about Eucalyptus, in fact one of my essential oils is eucalyptus. But I just learned the wonder of its whole tree, thanks to you. I'd love to experiment on the leaves and its vapor when immersed in warm water, but that's if I find a good source. Loved your hub, really! I voted up, useful, and interesting!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      what an interesting and wonderful hub.. thank you for sharing all your knowledge with us..

      I voted way up my friend

      Debbie

    • profile image

      KatrineDalMonte 5 years ago

      What a beautiful hub. I have 3 small (at the moment) eucalyptus trees in my garden. I bought them mainly because I heard they tend to grow quite fast. I like your detailed information on various uses of these wonderful trees. Enjoyed reading that, thanks for sharing.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Jackie Lynnley thank you. Eucalyptus trees have a great scent and medicinal value.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I had two of these trees planted until I found out how huge they got. Now I wish I had left one, sounds great! Thanks for the health info, always love that.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      alloporus thank you for the interesting nugget and appreciation.

    • profile image

      alloporus 5 years ago

      Thanks Vellur, interesting Hub. One extra nugget is that the reason gum trees are so common in Australia is that they usually survive all but the most severe wild fires. Great work.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 thank you, I love Eucalytus trees and use Eucalyptus oil, so I thought I would make a hub about it.Thank you for your vote too.

      cruelkindness thank you, the more the knowledge the better. The world is full of interesting stuff we don't know about!!

    • cruelkindness profile image

      cruelkindness 5 years ago from an angle view.

      These are my favorite kind of hubs. I love the interesting knowledge about the world.

      Voted up

      Great presentation in the Hub.

      Cruelkindness(Subliminally Thoughtless)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Interesting facts on this tree. I didn't know the oil was so flammable, but it is still use effectively as aromatherapy oils. Great topic and so well covered. Voted up.