Common name: Eucalyptus/Gum tree
Scientific name: Eucalyptus spp.
Introduction: Eucalyptus is a non-UK native evergreen tree and is a firm favourite for Koalas. It is native to Australia and has antiseptic properties.
Leaves: When young, Eucalyptus leaves are typically stemless, round and have a blue tinge. As the tree matures, the lanceolate and petiolate leaves develop into a blue-green colour, form stalks and elongate, hanging downwards. Eucalyptus leaves have a distinct smell once crushed.
Buds: Form in individual clusters in large groups on single stalks or branches. They are typically green and have symmetrical patterns.
Bark: Blue-grey in colour. When peeled off in strips it reveals yellows patches underneath. Occasionally, red resin can seep from breaks in the bark. Each year as the tree matures, another layer of bark is added, increasing the girth of the tree.
Form: Typically, large, single-stemmed trees. Can reach up to 30 metres (100ft) in the UK.
Eucalyptus trees are monoecious. Eucalyptus flowers have fluffy stamens which sit in an operculum and can be a range of colours from white and cream to yellow, pink or red. As the stamen expands, the petal-less flowers’ operculum is split. Capsules (also known as ‘gumnuts’) are then formed. These capsules are cone-shaped and have valves at their tips which allows for the release of seeds.
Eucalyptus trees typically have a fast growth rate and according to Gardening Know How can reach roughly 60% of the life-time growth within the first ten years of its life.
Aboriginal populations of Australia would use eucalyptus for spiritual cleansing and would soak some species’ leaves to brew a healing tea. Eucalyptus essential oils can also be found in the tree’s leaves and hold antiseptic qualities. Additionally, these trees are highly flammable.
Eucalyptus trees are particularly attractive to bees and other pollinating insects. Most animals cannot digest eucalyptus leaves due to having essential oils within them.
Properties of Eucalyptus Wood and its Uses:
Eucalyptus wood was traditionally used to make tools, spears, shields and musical instruments by the original Australian settlers. It is currently used for timber and pulpwood when producing some types of paper.
Styling of Eucalyptus/Where to Find Them:
These trees are typically planted in gardens, parks and plantations. In some instances, Eucalyptus trees have been found on roadsides and as part of woodland.
Associated Pests and Diseases:
Eucalyptus trees are resilient but can suffer from oedema and eucalyptus gall wasp. Gall wasp larvae that are layed in the galls of leaves can result in excessive leaf fall. Eucalyptus are also prone to Honey Fungus.
Pruning and Pruning Qualities: Eucalyptus trees require little pruning and can grow to be quite large if left alone. Pruning, if decided to carry out, should be conducted between February and March and when the tree is relatively young. Typically, younger trees will need formative pruning for them to develop into well-shaped mature trees, and this can be done through coppicing. Eucalyptus trees can also undergo heavy pruning such as a pollard. You can also annually prune in the summer to manage top growth and overall height.
Growth Rate after Pruning: After coppicing, new stems and young (juvenile) leaves are encouraged to form each year. On the other hand, after pollarding, you will find that your Eucalyptus tree’s growth will be restricted once it reaches a certain height.
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