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Eucalyptus globulus: Tasmanian blue gum

You’ve certainly heard of the koala bear’s favorite plant, or sucked on those aromatic lozenges when you’ve had a cold or sort throat. That’s right – we’re talking about the eucalyptus tree!

The eucalyptus is a huge genus, containing more than 500 distinct species. Most are native to Australia. They’re all perennial shrubs or trees, and some can reach a height of more than a hundred meters, making them some of the tallest trees in the world.

All species of eucalyptus contain essential oils, most importantly cineole or eucalyptol. With its pleasant smell and antibacterial effect, it’s used to make perfumes and pharmaceuticals. The oil is extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus.

One of the species best suited for commercial production of eucalyptol is the Eucalyptus globulus you see before you. It is cultivated in subtropical regions around the world, though not widely used commercially in Australia itself. In Germany, it’s also commonly known as the “fever-curing tree”, and indeed, its oil has an important use in soothing and treating colds and respiratory ailments.

The blue gum is one of the most widespread eucalyptus species. Though not suited for use in construction, its tough, pest-resistant wood makes good telephone poles and railroad ties. Like other species of eucalyptus, it’s a fast-growing plant that dries out the soil, rapidly tillers after being cut, and prevents other plants from growing nearby. The global cultivation of eucalyptus on an industrial scale is creating a huge ecological problem.

Audio file download
Eucalyptus globulus: Tasmanian blue gum (MP3, 690 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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