The leaves of the best-known Eucalyptus varieties (also known as the gumtree) are round or oval and grow entirely symmetrically around the stem. Those leaves spread a strong fresh scent which keeps insects away. The blue-grey film is produced by a layer of wax which reflects the light, making the leaves look silvery. The plant flowers after about four or five years with cream flowers. There are also species that produce red flowers, but they’re not hardy. Eucalyptus usually grows to a height of 1 to 3 metres, with ambitious specimens reaching 5 metres.
Eucalyptus is a member of the myrtle family and is the most common deciduous tree in Australia. The plant was increasingly grown in Europe from midway through the 19th century. Eucalyptus does well here in areas where it does not freeze very hard, although there are also species that are hardy. If you place it on your balcony or terrace you should give the plant a large pot or container straightaway, because Eucalyptus grows quickly and needs space.
The name Eucalyptus comes from the Greek words ‘eu’ (beautiful) and ‘kalyptos’ (hat). It refers to the flowers, which consist of stamens and pistils which together resemble a hat.
Eucalyptus is koalas’ favourite food - they can munch on it all day.
In Australia the plant is known as ‘mythical, magical wood’ that is used for oil, gum, firewood, medicines and fuel.
Pick off leaves that are no longer attractive and pour hot water over them: instant aromatherapy and treatment for a cold.