Eucalyptus Trees | Reds Landscaping & Design

7 best Eucalyptus Trees

The eucalyptus is an icon of the Australian native bush garden and is a favourite amongst many Australian landscapers. Every year in late March, National Eucalyptus Day is celebrated. Events and celebrations take place all around Australia. Some of the celebrations involve making eucalyptus tea, and many people in Australia will remember camping trips where a gum leaf was added to the tea for a bit of genuine Aussie flavour.

Eucalyptus is one of the world’s most widely planted hardwood trees.

Although its natural habitat is almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, the eucalypt, or gum tree, is now one of the world’s most widely planted hardwood trees. Part of its popularity is the tree’s characteristics of being fast growing, hardy, and adaptable, as well as its ability to produce complex oils. Eucalyptus trees are also known for their attractive foliage and bark.


Eucalyptus plantation in Brazil - Reds Landscaping & Design
Eucalyptus plantation in Brazil - cellulose paper agriculture - Eucalyptus plantation in Brazil for the manufacturing of cellulose paper. Fibria is the world’s biggest producer of "short-fibre" cellulose pulp, which is used to make such things as newsprint, nappies and banknotes.


The controversy about planting Eucalyptus in some parts of the world.

The spread of the gum tree worldwide is not without its controversies. In India and Spain, it has been blamed for lowering water tables. In California, where eucalypts have been grown since the mid 1800s, there has been a lot of bad press about the blue gum tree's aggressively spreading from its original plantings. Although the oils in eucalyptus are flammable, so are the oils in pine trees and some other trees. There is also controversy in the Mediterranean. On the island of Malta, many people want the gum trees removed and replaced with indigenous species. The apiarists want the eucalypts to stay as they produce great honey.

Using Eucalyptus in the Egyptian Desert to limit desert growth and treat waste water.

It is not all bad news for eucalyptus plantations outside Australia. In a plantation project in the Egyptian desert, known as the Serapium forest, gum trees, along with local species, are being used to both treat sewerage waste and to stop the desert's growth. In this situation, the gum trees in Australia can grow plantation timber at four times the rate of a typical European plantation and absorb excess nutrients such as nitrogen that could harm the environment.

The Eucalyptus genome has been decoded.
In 2013, the genome of the Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) was sequenced. This has given scientists an insight into the specialised metabolites that create the oils the trees use as a chemical defence. The original inhabitants of Australia have been using these oils for tens of thousands of years for medicinal purposes, and eucalyptus oil is now widely used by the pharmaceutical industry. Research has shown that there is great diversity in these particular genes and this helps to explain why some species are better at repelling insects and why koalas will only select particular species.


Mountain Gum tree - Reds Landscaping & Design
Mountain Gum tree or Eucalyptus dalrympleana like many gums is a fast-growing large evergreen tree with flaking white and grey bark.


Flaking grey and white bark - Eucalyptus dalrympleana - Reds Landscaping & Design
Mountain Gum or Eucalyptus dalrympleana has flaking grey and white bark.

Eucalypt, Eucalyptus, Angophora, and Corymbia.

The term Eucalypt includes trees which are amongst the closely related genera of Corymbia and Angophora as well as Eucalyptus. The differences between the three are related to the leaf positioning, the flower stalks and the bark. The term gum tree has become the common term for all three eucalypts whether or not the trunk exudes a sticky gum like substance.

The Eucalyptus Family

Eucalypts belong to the family Myrtaceae and are related to tea trees (Leptospermum), paperbarks (Melaleuca) and bottlebrushes (Callistemon). The name Eucalyptus comes to us from Modern Latin. It was coined in 1788 by French botanist Charles Louis L’héritier de Brutelle from Greek eu "well" + kalyptos "covered". Anyone who has been hit by a gum nut will know how well covered the seed is.

Eucalyptus gunnii “little boy blue” - Reds Landscaping & Design
Eucalyptus gunnii “little boy blue”. A compact variety of gum from Tasmania with stunning grey-blue foliage.

The world’s tallest flowering plant

Eucalyptus regnans is the world's tallest flowering plant. Amongst the trees, it is second only to the California Redwood in height but grows five times as fast. One specimen in Tasmania’s Arve Valley, nicknamed "Centurion," has reached 99.6m in height. It is not only the world’s tallest flowering plant but also the tallest known hardwood tree.
Eucalyptus regnans occurs mostly in north-east Tasmania as well as the Derwent and Huon valleys. It can also be seen in the higher rainfall areas of the eastern highlands of Victoria, south of the Great Dividing Range.

Eucalyptus regnans - Reds Landscaping & Design
Eucalyptus regnans – The worlds tallest flowering plant.

The scented gums

The genetic diversity of the chemical defences of the Eucalypts leaves a clue in the aroma of the trees. The lemon scented gum, Corymbia citriodora, has a distinctive lemon smell, which is very noticeable after light rain. This tree is common in South East Queensland and residents of Melbourne will be familiar with the smell. This is the eucalyptus most often used for manufacturing lemon eucalyptus essential oil.

Corymbia citriodora - Reds Landscaping & Design
Corymbia citriodora, Lemon Scented Gum is a very fast growing tree. It has smooth, pale, uniform or slightly mottled bark, narrow-leaved crown which smells strongly of lemons. Pear-shaped buds are borne in clusters of three, whilst fruit are urn-shaped. The bark is smooth for the entire height of the tree.

There are other gum trees with a completely different fragrance. These trees have evolved their chemical defences to smell like peppermint. One of these is the South Gippsland peppermint, Eucalyptus willisii. Similarly, the dark green leaves of the narrow-leaved Peppermint gum (Eucalyptus Radiata) have a peppermint smell when they are crushed. Another well known scented gum is Tamania’s Eucalyptus coccifera, or the Mount Wellington Peppermint Gum. The adult leaves are an attractive blue green colour, changing from the heart-shaped juvenile leaves. This tree, like many gums, has grey and white mottled bark. In summer, creamy-white flowers appear.

Eucalyptus Uses

Wood from Eucalyptus trees.

The timber from eucalyptus trees has been used for a long time in building construction, flooring, and furniture. Species such as the Sugar Gum (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) with its pale yellow brown heartwood and Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) with its wavy grain and brown heartwood can be used to create furniture. The species of Ash such as Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatenis) and Shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens) are often used for dining tables, staircases and flooring. These hardwood timbers are also great structural timbers due to their strength.

Furniture timber from eucalypts - Reds Landscaping & Design
Furniture timber from eucalypts have a wide range of colours and textures.


Furniture timber is one of the many uses for eucalyptus - Reds Landscaping & Design
Furniture timber is one of the many uses for eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus Essential Oils

The original inhabitants of Australia have been using these oils for tens of thousands of years for medicinal purposes, and eucalyptus oil is now widely used by the pharmaceutical industry. The species often used for commercial essential oil production are the Tasmanian Blue Gum Eucalyptus globulus and the black peppermint tree E. salicifolia. The oil is often the active ingredient in inhalers and expectorants.

The lemon scented gum Corymbia citriodora  is the source of the lemon eucalyptus essential oil. Typically this essential oil contains citronella, citronellol, geraniol and isopulegol. Lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which is produced by distilling oil from the twigs and leaves, is well known for its ability to repel insects. One eucalypt in particular has been know to alter its chemical defence in order to protect itself. In 2013, biologists discovered that a Yellow Box tree Eucalyptus melliodora in a sheep paddock in Yeoval New South Wales could change the smell of its leaves from one side to the other to protect itself against attack.

Essential Oils Distillation Process - Reds Landscaping & Design
Essential Oils Distillation Process.


The Red Flowering Gum Tree (Corymbia ficifolia)

The Red flowering gum tree is a great street tree for your Melbourne garden. Avoid planting them under powerlines, as some hybrids can eventually grow to 5 metres or more very rapidly. Fortunately, there is a dwarf variety suitable for smaller gardens. Corymbia ficifolia 'Baby Crimson' will grow to around 3 metres tall. Insects and birds like the rainbow lorikeet will be attracted to the nectar rich flowers of all of the flowering gums. The eyes of the rainbow lorikeet are particularly sensitive to orange and red colours.

Rainbow lorikeet - Reds Landscaping & Design
A Rainbow lorikeet flies from a red flowering gum after a feed.


Corymbia ficifolia - Reds Landscaping & Design
Corymbia ficifolia or red flowering gum is native to southern Western Australia is great for attracting birds to your garden.

The colours of Corymbia ficifolia vary from reds to oranges and are unpredictable if grown from seed. If you are looking for a particular colour, ask your local plant nursery for a grafted plant that will guarantee the colour you want.

Stunning Pink flowering gum - Reds Landscaping & Design
Stunning Pink flowering gum.

The flowering gum is also a great tree for attracting bees and other beneficial insects. Most honey in Australia is produced from the nectar of gum trees. Corymbia ficifolia has been described as the greatest producer of honey known.

Bees are attracted to the prolific nectar producing red flowering gum - Reds Landscaping & Design
Bees are attracted to the prolific nectar producing red flowering gum.

For your larger Melbourne garden take a look at the grafted hybrid varieties Corymbia Summer Beauty and Corymbia Summer Beauty. These plants are specially bred for your home garden by crossing the  Corymbia ficifolia with the swamp bloodwood Eucalyptus ptychocarpa. The result is a tree better suited to the wet and humid Melbourne summers.


Landscape Design with Gum Trees

Not all gum trees are forest giants. Varieties such as Eucalyptus gunnii "little boy blue" will fit into the smallest landscape garden. There are also some great dwarf varieties available for the smaller garden. For good landscape design, plant taller trees closer to your fence and border, then use layering with smaller species towards the front.

Eucalyptus leucoxylon 'Euky Dwarf' - Reds Landscaping & Design
Eucalyptus leucoxylon 'Euky Dwarf' also known as the Dwarf SA Blue Gum this plant is great for use in smaller gardens. Flowers appear in large clusters from Autumn through to Spring. Flowers especially attract bees which make excellent honey.

Evergreen Trees

Eucalypts are evergreen trees, but tend to shed leaves, and also bark, continuously during the year. For this reason, it is best not to place them too close to your swimming pool when designing your poolside garden. Take a look at some screening plants instead.

Care of your Gum trees

There are no longer any active volcanoes on mainland Australia. This ancient geology means that many native plants have evolved to survive in low phosphorus soils. The actual tolerance to phosphorus will depend on the part of Australia where the plant originally came from. To be on the safe side, use a fertiliser like Neutrog Bush Tucker for your Australian Native plants. For this reason, do not plant your gum trees too close to plants that require high phosphorus fertilisers. For more care tips, take a look at our Tree Planting advice.

At Red’s Landscaping and Design, our highly experienced landscape designers use the best design technology to bring to life a vision from end-to-end.

For example, take a look at our 3D Render Package, which will allow you to collaborate on your design in real time with one of our experienced and talented landscape designers. Using some advanced software and hardware, we can create immediate 3D renders. This allows visual assessment of the design from every viewpoint. It will let you see and understand how all the elements are intended to come together, giving an instant serenity.

2D Design Package is very similar to a house plan, showing a "bird's eye view" of the property. Our 2D package contains detailed plant schedules, quantities, spacings, and placement locations in accordance with a set of irrigation and hydraulic drawings. The collaboration and synergy of these two documents is fundamental to your landscape's success. It will ensure that no plant goes through its establishment period without consistent daily watering.

Our Landscape Botanical Design Package is uniquely tailored to your preferred colour pallet and style of plants, whilst also maintaining symmetry and consistency with existing buildings and architecture. This is an ideal solution for landscape design with Eucalyptus trees.

Our dedicated horticulturalist will ensure the plants selected will work with your soil and climate. This design package comes with 2 snapshot renders detailing how the planting scheme will look once established in your landscape. This package also features an installation guide and a care guide. These guides will help you understand the water, shade, and fertilising requirements of each plant and will help you spot early warning signs of stress or disease. These guides will ensure that you have the knowledge to understand each plant's specific requirements and maintain them to maturity.

Click today to book your consultation with one of our passionate horticulturalists.

Commercial Landscaping with Eucalyptus trees.

The hardy and versatile Eucalyptus is widely used in commercial landscaping. Most species are very drought tolerant and require little maintenance. Growing indigenous species will help the local wildlife and avoid hybridising the local plants.

Commercial landscaping with gum trees - Reds Landscaping & Design
Commercial landscaping with gum trees.

In commercial landscaping, the large gum tree also provides shade for people enjoying the public space and for cars in the carpark.

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