Eucalypts (Eucalyptus or Corymbia sp.) are mostly trees, from Australia. There are over 800 species, and all contain a pungent oil, with antiseptic properties. Most are very hardy and adaptable; growing rapidly once they establish their roots after planting. The fine characteristics of the oils can vary greatly though from species to species; making some better suited to some purposes than others.
Most prefer full sun.
Will handle frosts and salt winds if correct species is chosen.
Adaptable to different soil types.
May need pruning as limbs fall off in strong winds.
Many species can handle dry periods, others will withstand some flooding.
Most people call all eucalypts 'gum trees', however the gum is only one of several different sub groups of the genus.
Gums are eucalypts which lose their bark leaving a smooth usually light coloured trunk. (eg:Euc. citriodora, pauciflora, papuana).
Stringybarks are another sub group, so called because the bark is very stringy (eg: Euc. macrohyncha).
Peppermints have a tighter bark pattern (not so stringy) but get their name because of the peppermint smell which is a characteristic of the foliage of the group. (eg: Euc. nicholii, radiata).
Yates are smaller growing eucalypts which have very large nobby gum nuts/fruits (eg: Euc. lehmannii has fruits the size of a tennis ball).
The Mallee eucalypts are also smaller growing (usually 5 to 7 metres high) which tend to come mainly from arid/semi arid areas. Mallees are usually multi trunked (ie: They tend to have several trunks or branches from close to ground level).
There are other types of Eucalypts as well.
The leaves of most eucalypts can be used dried in pot pourri, and the oils for medicinal or antiseptic purposes. The blue gum (E. globulus) however is particularly good because of it's high oil content.
A dwarf form of blue gum (E. globulus compacta) is favored in home gardens, only growing to around 6m tall (The normal form can grow over 30m). Regular harvesting will stimulate regrowth of lush immature blue colored leaves (mature leaves are green and less attractive).
Foliage dries readily hung in a dark, dry shed. Leaves are often chopped to use in potpourri.
Particularly useful eucalypts include:
E. citriodora (Lemon scented gum) With a scent mid way between eucalyptus and lemon.
E. globulus (Blue Gum) Attractive blue juvenile leaves with strong, typical eucalyptus scent.
E. nicholli (Peppermint) has a peppermint gum scent.
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