T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Eucalyptus (Genus:) Blue Gum

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Uunranked): Rosids 
Order: Myrtales 
Family: Myrtaceae 
Subfamily: Myrtoideae 
Tribe: Eucalypteae
Genus: Eucalyptus
Species: About 700 
Common name: Blue gum.

Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees (and a few shrubs) in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia. There are more than 700 species of Eucalyptus, mostly native to Australia, and a very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia and one as far north as the Philippine archipelago. It is a large tree with a straight trunk that can reach 60 meters tall and several feet in diameter. Its leaf alternates (may be opposite on young branches), simple, evergreen, leathery, ovate to narrowly lanceolate, 10cm to 20 cm inches long, often curved and drooping, long pointed, entire margins, aromatic, dull green above, bluish bloom beneath, young foliage more blue.
The flower is round, 45 mm across, with very long creamy white stamens, no petals, making it look like a round bottle brush, appearing singly in leaf axils in winter and early spring. The fruit is a dry, heavy capsules, up to 25 mm long, looks like a child's wooden top, bluish and warty when fresh, later turning brown. Twig: Slender, yellow-green to reddish, smooth. The trees bark is attractive, peels in long loose strips, often piling up at base; outer bark rough reddish brown, inner bark smooth creamy white to yellow-green. It is a fast-growing source of wood, its oil can be used for cleaning and functions as a natural insecticide, and it is sometimes used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria.