The Australian-native Eucalyptus is mostly a warm climate tree that thrives well in above 60 degrees F except for the hardy varieties. The image of koalas climbing a eucalyptus tree are iconic of Australia. It can obtain a height of 375 feet putting it amongst the tallest trees in the world. And there are over 700 different species of eucalyptus tree. It is the oil from the leaves that makes the tree such a profitable economic item. The essential oil eucalyptus is a very powerful antiseptic and good at clearing the body’s airways when one has a cold or flu. The oil is obtained through aqueous distillation of the fresh leathery leaves. When properly prepared it is colorless and has its own characteristic odor with the actual oil constituents being terpene and cymene.
The German botanist and explorer, Ferdinand von Muller, introduced the tree to Europe, Africa, southern United States, and South America. He first suggested that the oil in the leaves may be of use as a medicine. It became very popular throughout Africa for its anti-malarial properties. The eucalyptus was to become under intense study for the nest hundred years or so by several botanist especially Europeans. There are many varieties of the tree with some being hardy enough to survive in the colder regions of northern Europe while others can only tolerate warm climates. It was due to the many different species that early botanist took so long in recording them all. The eucalyptus is a fast-growing tree that starts off as a small immature stem-clasping plant to a very large tree with bushy branches. They don’t usually have flowers, but the hardy species grow small creamy flowers sometimes with some still blooming into Winter. This is why their often used in making Christmas reefs. Other uses for the eucalyptus are essential oil as mentioned above and decoration and screening.
Growing the eucalyptus can be easy if you get the right variety for your specific area. Almost all eucalyptus trees thrive best in direct sun though a very few can tolerate part-shade. Its also important to consider how windy a location is or if its exposed to salty wind. A species with thick leaves will be more tolerate of a windy area than species with thinner leaves. The trees are generally drought tolerate except for some that thrive in very moist soils. And even better there are many varieties of the eucalyptus tree family that will tolerate poor quality soils though this may not hold true for the trees that have the ability to survive in really moist soils. As for the soil material, many can grow in clay or sand. Eucalyptus trees are native to the dry hot Australian outback, but there are many species that can tolerate cold weather. Maybe the best thing to do is plant them in a pot so you can take them inside during the most extreme winters. Your sure to find a good eucalyptus for your climate.