Eucalyptus trees, often referred to as Gum trees, are known for their striking foliage and various uses. Discover Eucalyptus species, growth, and how to introduce these aromatic trees into your landscape or for their essential oil benefits.
The Eucalyptus genus contains mostly evergreen trees and some large shrubs. Eucalyptuses have attractive, stately forms and make lovely additions to home landscapes. They have an upright, open habit with long, modestly branched stems having smooth red-brown, gray, or powdery white bark when young that grows rough and fibrous on some species and begins to peel and exfoliate with age, becoming quite beautiful. The thick, papery, silver to bluish green foliage is famous for its distinctive fragrance, which is typically menthol-like but is more peppermint or lemonish in some species. Young eucalyptus leaves are circular or heart shaped before elongating and becoming willowy as they age. Both leaf forms are frequently used in floral arrangements. Some species bloom in summer, some year-round. Borne in small clusters, the umbellate flowers have no petals but instead appear as sprays of colorful stamens emanating from a center cap. They are nectar rich, and bees visit them frequently.
Eucalyptus is a large genus of more than 700 species. Eucalyptuses grow rapidly. In their native habitats in Australia and Tasmania, many species routinely grow as tall as 25 to 60 feet, and can get much taller in optimal conditions, but in home gardens they typically stay between 6 to 10 feet high. In cold climates, eucalyptuses are often grown in containers and moved indoors as temperatures cool. E. cinerea (silver dollar tree; argyle-apple), E. citriodora (lemon eucalyptus), and E. pulverulenta (florist silver dollar) are a few species in cultivation today.
Eucalyptuses grow best in warm climates with moderate humidity. They prefer sunny locations with slightly acidic soil having a 5.5 to 6.5 pH. But they are adaptable to most soils as long as they drain well. Once established, the trees are drought tolerant.