Eucalyptus, a tree full of health benefits

Aside from its visual appeal, eucalyptus is a tree that has been credited with many health benefits and medicinal uses.

Summary of Eucalyptus facts

Name – Eucalyptus
Family – Myrtaceae
Type – tree

Height – 32 to 130 feet (10 to 40 m)
Climate – temperate to warm
Exposure – full sun

Soil – ordinary, well drained
Foliage – evergreen
Hardiness – 26°F (-3°C) to 0°F (-18°C) depending on the variety

Planting eucalyptus

A pink eucalyptus flower unfurls hundreds of needle-like stamens.Eucalyptus is a tree that is best planted in fall or at the beginning of spring.

Its growth is quite fast and it doesn’t require any particular care.

  • Choose a rather sunny spot, ideally well protected from strong winds.
  • Incorporate planting soil mix into your garden soil when planting.
  • Endeavor to water well over the 1st year after planting.

Proper mulch will avoid having weeds proliferate around the trunk and will protect the root system when winters are cold, especially during the first few years.

Pruning and caring for eucalyptus

Eucalyptus care is very easy because it requires practically no attention at all once it has settled in comfortably.

Pretty hardy, eucalyptus has no known common disease. It sometimes is attacked by psyllids.

However, it is at times vulnerable to the cold, and most eucalyptus varieties cannot withstand temperatures below 23°F (-5°C).

  • Thick mulch around the tree for the 1st few years should help it cope with winter freezing well.

How to prune a eucalyptus tree

No pruning is required but if you must reduce or balance the branches out, act in spring or end of summer for pruning. Abundant sap makes for quick wound-closing and healing.

  • Avoid pruning or wounding your tree in winter or in very moist weather to keep fungus out.

Eucalyptus offshoots and offsides

Eucalyptus is very vigorous and if growing conditions are optimal, it will send shoots up from its roots, much like the strong root stock of certain grafted fruit trees in an orchard. These are called root suckers.

Here is how to deal with eucalyptus root suckers:

  • Snip them off as soon as you see them. Mowing the lawn usually does the trick.
  • For larger specimens, cut them down with lopers or a saw or machete.
  • If the stump is too large, you might have to dig it out entirely, severing the root to the mother tree

If digging roots out, once you’ve cut the root coming from the mother tree, let the wound “cure” or dry in shaded air for a couple hours before filling the hole back in.

There’s no permanent solution to keep the eucalyptus from sending shoots up, so going around the garden with pruning shears every once and a while must become part of your regular garden routine!

All there is to know about eucalyptus

Bark of the eucalyptus tree peels off in long strands, revealing green and red hues beneath the gray overlayers.Native to Australia, Eucalyptus is a member of the Myrtaceae family. Although the geographical point of origin is on the other side of the world, Eucalyptus radiata or narrow-leaved peppermint has adapted to many climates in the western hemisphere, together with other eucalyptus species such as Eucalyptus gunnii, Eucalyptus niphophilia or Eucalyptus globulus.

Eucalyptus is a tree that can be found in many regions of the planet, like Europe, Latin America, Africa, Madagascar or the Middle East.

It bears beautiful flowers that are easily recognized thanks to their silvery shimmering in the light. Its trunk peels in colorful layers that meld silver, brown and green.

Blooming is only possible in warmer climates for this tree native to Australia and Tasmania.

In those countries, the blooming provides excellent nectar for honey production.
The leaves are peppered with oil glands, which makes it great for producing eucalyptus essential oil.

Eucalyptus flavor even appears in mint-flavored chewing gum and in cough drops!

Eucalyptus and notable cultivars

Here is a selection of eucalyptus cultivars that are found appealing for their decorative properties, their size, hardiness or medicinal properties.

  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis – Also called “River Red gum” or “river gum”, it is used to produce essential oil.
  • Eucalyptus citriodora – Goes by the name of “lemon gum” or “lemon eucalyptus”. It spreads a scent of lemon and is mostly used for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eucalyptus deglupta – Also known as the “rainbow eucalyptus” or “Mindanao gum”. It boasts an amazing very ornamental trunk with swaths of blue, orange and red. It is commonly used to produce paper.
  • Eucalyptus globulus – “Blue gum” is another name for this tree. It is widely grown and its extracts are used to reinforce the immune system.
  • Eucalyptus gunnii – This variety is used to create perfume, and it grows well in cooler, more temperate climates.
  • Eucalyptus radiata – Another name for this tree is “narrow-leaved peppermint”, and it is used to produce essential oil. It mostly grows in Australia.
  • Eucalyptus regnans – This “Royal eucalyptus” can reach over 330 feet (100 m) tall !
  • Eucalyptus smithii – Also called “Smith’s eucalyptus” or “gully gum”. Its delicate essential oil is what it is grown for since it is an excellent disinfectant.
  • Eucalyptus niphophila – Also called “white sallee” and “snow gum”. This is the hardiest of all Eucalyptus varieties, it can withstand freezing temperatures as low as -4°F (-20° C).

Smart tip about eucalyptus

Plant this tree in a wide open space, because it quickly grows dozens of yards or meters high.

Read also


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Grown eucalyptus tree shared by kylie1 under © CC0 1.0
Eucalyptus flower under © CC0 1.0
Eucalyptus bark shared by MemoryCatcher under © CC0 1.0

  • Stella Hollis wrote on 28 December 2018 at 1 h 30 min

    This information does not tackle the problem of neglected eucalyptus which have smaller trees growing from their roots to a considerable height. Is it all right to cut them at the base which would then leave the original tree looking much better and with more space ?

    • Gaspard Lorthiois wrote on 28 December 2018 at 11 h 36 min

      Hello Stella, thanks for your question. It’s perfectly all right to cut side shoots off. You’ll need to keep watch over the stump for a while because it’ll want to send shoots up for a while after that. You’re right that a single large tree sometimes looks much nicer!

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