Common name: Eucalyptus
Most of us know about Eucalyptus oil, used for steam inhalation to relieve chest and nasal congestion. It’s made by distilling the leaves of this unique, magnificent tree. They could also grow as shrubs and are classified into small, medium, tall or very tall, depending on their height.
One of the tallest trees in the world, Eucalyptus Regnans, also belong to this family of Eucalyptus, which has over 700 species in all. The most commonly seen species in India is Eucalyptus Tereticornis, which grows to a height of 25-50 meters. All Eucalyptus trees grown a new layer of bark each year shedding the older one as ribbons or flakes, and exposing the lighter colored new skin underneath.
The leaves are the most important feature of the tree, since they contain a lot of oil glands. The tree also produces white, yellow, green or red flowers that have a tuft of stamen. The seeds are contained inside cup-shaped capsules that open up to release the seeds once they are mature. Eucalyptus oil is used as a disinfectant, antiseptic and deodorizer, and is also an ingredient in sweets, cough lozenges, toothpastes and mosquito repellents.
The tree is very fire-prone due to the large amounts of volatile oil contained in it, causing huge forest fires. Eucalyptus trees are also considered to be a water-guzzlers, preventing undergrowth near it. But this characteristic makes it useful in clearing and drying out swampy areas.
Propagation is from seeds, grafts and also stem cuttings.