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Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus belongs to the Myrtaceae or myrtle family. The species consists of several large trees and short shrubs. This tall evergreen tree is native to the regions of Australia and Tasmania. The trees are also known as gum trees as a lot of sap is exuded by the bark. It can grow to heights of over 230 feet and is regarded as a hardy species. The eucalyptus constitutes some of the largest and the most popular types of trees. There are over seven hundred species of the tree which are existing today.

The eucalyptus has a papery bark and it adds a layer annually to its existing layer. It has rigid, oblong and pointed dark green leaves. The leaves are also characterized as opposite, sessile and having a bluish white bloom. A hard and multi seeded fruit is produced by this tree. The leaves and essential oils of the eucalyptus are highly useful for various purposes. From the leaves and branch tops of the

eucalyptus, the eucalyptus oil is derived through a process of distillation which is known for its several medicinal properties. Forest tree, woodland tree, mallee and shrub are some known varieties of the eucalyptus. Apart from these, two trees are existent in the Western part of Australia, known as the mallet and the marlock. The constituents of the eucalyptus include the volatile oil, polyphenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, aldehydes and bitter resin. Eucalyptus trees grow fast and live for long years. The eucalyptus leaf has a leathery touch and possesses glands which produce the fragrant oils. The pungent scent of the oil is due to the presence of the aromatic oil of the eucalyptus. Eucalyptus means well covered and this is termed so as the plant have flowers which are covered with a cup like membrane when in bud.

The leaf is a highly valued part of the tree. With the dry season, the leaves start to fall. The four leaf phases of the plant includes the ‘seedling’, ‘juvenile’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘adult’ phases. The largest leaves are formed during the intermediate phase. The mature leaves turn green from the earlier bluish green hue. They are lance shaped and highly smooth. Flowers have no petals but instead have numerous stamens which are of varied colors such as white, cream, yellow, pink or red. The woody fruits of the tree are cone shaped and most species do not flower till the full foliage has developed. This tree has a large network of strong underground roots which serve to extract water. It is highly useful in cultivation and reforestation efforts.

 

Distribution
The Eucalyptus is common in areas such as New Guinea, Indonesia, Philippines islands and different species can be found in the tropics, Americas, England, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China and the Indian Subcontinent. Seeds, soft wood cuttings and semi hard wood cuttings are the preferred way for propagating it. Its roots must be well taken care of, else it is highly prone to damage. The plant requires ample water and sunlight to thrive. Planting eucalyptus without proper planning can be ecologically disastrous as the plant absorbs great amounts of water from the soils. They are intolerant to frost and cold.

It grows in moist and well drained sandy soil. This plant is strong and can tolerate the most dry and poor soils. The eucalyptus has small amounts of essential minerals. It flourishes in areas with moderate rainfall and requires a sheltered area for growth. It grows in areas with temperature fluctuations from 16 to 20 degrees. It grows well in areas with varied soils and climate. They are sown in the months of February and March, usually in seedbeds in a greenhouse or in June.
 

Uses
Eucalyptus has tremendous economic importance. It is used for making ornaments, timber, firewood and pulpwood. The tree removes water from the soil through transpiration process and reduces the water table levels and treats soil salination. The oil is obtained through a process of steam distillation and is useful for cleaning and deodorizing. It is used in food supplements, lozenges, cough syrups, vapor baths, decongestants and in sweets. It functions as an insect repellent. The eucalyptus is used for making plant dyes ranging from colors like yellow, green, tan, chocolate to deep rust red. It is used for making mulch or fertilizers. Eucalyptus produces oils which have noted medicinal and industrial value. Certain eucalyptus trees are also used in the making of fuels. The leaves undergo distillation to extract the oil or are dried and used for other purposes. Its nectar is liked by bees and the nectar is

used to make monofloral honey. Digeridoos, an aboriginal wind instrument is made from the bark of the eucalyptus.

In Aboriginal medicine, the leaves were used to treat wounds fungal infection and have anti-inflammatory properties. Other traditional medicine, including Chinese, Ayurvedic and Graeco-European systems have recognized the value of the eucalyptus. Eucalyptus oil has antiseptic properties and is useful in treating lung diseases, fever, colds and sore throats, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory ailments. It prevents infections arising from burns and is useful in treating pyorrhoea and to treat lice and fleas. The leaves have antibacterial properties. Its pulp is used for paper as well as raw materials. Eucalyptus trees are used as poles for making huts and houses and also for making plywood, doors and windows.

 
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