What does eucalyptus look like

Eucalyptus - the medicinal plant in the home garden

The genus eucalyptus contributes significantly to the design of the Australian landscape. More than 600 different species of blue gum trees are native to Australia and Indonesia. Some specimens reach heights of more than 100 meters. In this country, too, the eucalyptus is very popular in floristry due to its beautiful foliage.


Much of the eucalyptus species are fast-growing trees and shrubs that reach great heights. The giant eucalyptus (Eucalyptus regnans) reaches its greatest height. A specimen of this species was found in Tasmania: its height is 97 meters and the trunk circumference is 20 meters.

Similar to other trees, the outer appearance of the bark also changes with the eucalyptus trees. Every year the tree receives a new layer of bark, which increases the size of the trunk every year. In some species, such as Eucalyptus sheathiana, the outer layer separates from the tree in long strips. In other species, the dead bark remains on the tree.


Eucalyptus are grown in many regions of the world where they are not actually native because of their rapid growth and high wood quality. The share of eucalyptus wood in the European paper and pulp industry was 8.70 percent last year, higher than that of beech wood and aspen wood (source: CEPI). These regions include South Africa and Southern Europe. Since the trees originally come from tropical or subtropical areas, they prefer a correspondingly warm climate, which gives them numerous hours of sunshine. However, many species also tolerate short periods of frost. Eucalyptus gunnii, which is particularly frost-resistant and is hardy up to a temperature of minus 12 degrees, is particularly hard-boiled.

So that eucalyptus can develop optimally, they need a bright location with a lot of sunlight. Without this criterion, the leaves lose their natural color. If you want to plant a eucalyptus tree in your home garden, you should definitely place it on the south side of the house and make sure that no surrounding tree or building provides shade. Otherwise there are still some species that also agree to a location in penumbra.

A eucalyptus tree in the home garden has an interesting side effect: mosquitoes and flies avoid the essential oils of this plant, so the tree is ideal for keeping vermin away from your property. If possible, you should therefore place the tree near the terrace.


Even if a eucalyptus tree in the garden keeps flies and mosquitos away, it also has not to be despised side effects on the ecosystem: The cultivation of such a tree dries out the soil deeply. As a result, it robs the native animals of their habitat and displaces other plant species. In Australia in particular, there is a serious risk of forest fires due to its highly flammable oils. With the few specimens that are on German properties, however, there is no danger, as no chain reaction can arise.

Fertilizing & watering

As soon as a suitable location has been found, the proud owners of this magnificent specimen of a tree must ensure that it is all around well. In order for the eucalyptus tree to develop, it must be fertilized every two weeks for a period from spring to autumn. A liquid fertilizer is suitable for fertilization and should be used in doses. Too many nutrients would accelerate the already strong growth of the plant.

Watering is just as important as the fertilizer: the tree wants to be watered regularly and generously in its main growth phase. The soil should be well moistened. The surface of the site should be dry by the time the next water supply is available. The soil itself should be permeable to water, as eucalyptus cannot tolerate waterlogging.

In winter, gardeners can treat themselves and their eucalyptus to a rest. Pouring is reduced to a minimum. However, the earth must not dry out completely, even in winter. Although the eucalyptus can reach a considerable size, it gets by with relatively little water compared to other trees. The plant owes this to its hard-leaved leaves, through which water evaporates less.



The tree's essential oils protect it from many pests. Nevertheless, aphids can attack the shoot tips of the eucalyptus in spring. The pest infestation can be recognized by the dark sooty fungus. Fortunately, the pest is easy to control: Simply immerse the plant in cold water for 24 hours. In this process, all pests die. The eucalyptus itself does not suffer any significant damage.


If you want to keep a eucalyptus tree as a container plant, you have to cut it regularly. The cut is made in spring. Eucalyptus gunnii is one of the species that is well suited as a container plant, as it grows less rapidly than other eucalyptus trees. When kept indoors, Eucalyptus gunnii grows around 40 centimeters per year.

Once the plant has reached a certain size, it must be transplanted into a larger pot. Ideally, repotting should be done in autumn.


Eucalyptus trees planted in pots must be overwintered in the house during the cold season. Most of the varieties do not survive in the permanent freezing temperatures in the Federal Republic of Germany. The eucalyptus should also be able to enjoy a lot of light in winter. The ideal temperature for wintering is between five and ten degrees Celsius. If, on the other hand, it is warmer, the plant should be looked after in the same way as in summer.


The eucalyptus tree can be grown in two ways:

  1. Seeds
  2. Young tree

In terms of price, the former is of course cheaper and by and large also relatively uncomplicated. When sowing, the seeds are placed in a moistened mixture consisting of sand and peat soil. Then the seeds should stay in a heated propagation box at a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees Celsius until the first seedlings can be seen in a month. As soon as the first leaves form, the young tree is transplanted into a pot of compost.

Medicinal plant

There are numerous medicinal plants that can be found in the garden at home, such as devil's claw or verbena. At first glance, it seems unusual that a large tree like eucalyptus is a medicinal plant. And yet it is used in the world of shamans and bush doctors as a medicinal plant against numerous diseases. Whether resin, bark or the leaves - practically all parts of the rubber tree, or fever tree as it is called, are effective and help to restore the health of people who are suffering.

The shamans of Australia have used the parts of the tree for thousands of years to cure numerous ailments. In our medicine, eucalyptus is primarily used to fight coughs, mostly in the form of candy. The innumerable essential oils of the medicinal plants are effective in relieving coughs. They loosen the mucus and make it easier to cough up. At the same time, they inhibit the formation of new fungi and bacteria. Since the oils also have a cooling effect, inhaling eucalyptus makes it easier to breathe deeply when you have a cold.

Owners of a rubber tree can remove some leaves and dry them. You can use the dried leaves to make tea if you have a cold. To do this, pour a teaspoon of dried and chopped eucalyptus leaves with 200 milliliters of hot water and let the broth steep for about ten minutes. The tea is drunk three times a day. Optionally, you can pour boiling water over the leaves and inhale the steam to clear the airways.

Important: Children under two years of age, asthma sufferers and epileptics should not use eucalyptus treatment unless this has been discussed with a doctor. Eucalyptus is too hot for this target group. Other people who are not allowed to use eucalyptus: diabetics, toddlers and babies as well as patients with stomach or liver diseases and diseases of the biliary tract.

Volatile oil

The essential oil contained in eucalyptus is not only a threat to forest fires, but also has many positive effects. There are a total of over 50 types of eucalyptus from which the popular eucalyptus oil can be obtained with the help of steam distillation of the branches and leaves. However, the oil itself differs in terms of its mode of action and biochemical composition.

One of the well-known representatives from which many essential oils are extracted is the blue eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). As mentioned earlier, eucalyptus is unsuitable for a number of people. In large quantities, the oil is toxic even to adult, healthy people.

FAQ - The most common questions

What is eucalyptus and what does it look like?
The eucalyptus is a tree that in nature can grow up to 60 meters in height. Its trunk is smooth. The leaves are oval to egg-shaped. They have a distinctive blue-green color. Older leaves, on the other hand, are sickle-shaped and gray-green in color.

Is eucalyptus hardy?
No, the eucalyptus is not hardy.

How do you properly overwinter eucalyptus?
The eucalyptus should be put indoors in winter. The winter quarters should have a temperature of around five degrees Celsius. Suitable places are, for example, the winter garden, a cellar with a window or an attic. The soil should be kept drier in winter than in summer. However, complete drying out of the root ball must be avoided. If no cool winter quarters are available, the eucalyptus can also be overwintered in a warm room. Then it is cared for just as it is in summer.

When does the eucalyptus bloom?
The eucalyptus blooms in its homeland both in winter and in very early spring. The flowers are cream colored and round. They can reach a maximum diameter of five centimeters.

Where does eucalyptus grow and where does it originally come from?
There are a total of more than 100 genera with around 5000 species. Most species are found in Australia and Tasmania, as well as in the tropics of America. However, some of the evergreen plants also come from Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and New Guinea. Eucalyptus is now grown all over the world in all warm climates.

When and how do you cut eucalyptus?
Eucalyptus is a real growth miracle. It can get very large and grows quickly. For this reason, regular pruning is essential for potted plants. The best time to cut is either February or March. In any case, the plant should be cut shortly after flowering. The scissors are placed directly above the internodes, i.e. the point on the stem axis that is between the two easily recognizable nodes. The eucalyptus can also be cut into a specific shape. It is important that the cut surfaces receive special attention and are well cared for after the cut. A wound closure agent is always a good idea.

Why do eucalyptus trees peel?
In autumn, eucalyptus trees peel their bark, but do not shed their leaves. The peeling is therefore to be understood as preparation for the winter time, similar to the leaf shedding of normal deciduous trees.

Which soil is best for eucalyptus?
A substrate made of compost soil is ideal for the eucalyptus.

How big does the eucalyptus get?
As a potted plant, the eucalyptus can reach a height of up to two meters. In its homeland, it can grow up to 60 meters high.

Where can you buy eucalyptus plants?
Eucalyptus plants can be bought in tree nurseries or on the Internet.

Is eucalyptus wood weatherproof?
Eucalyptus wood is a hardwood and is therefore weatherproof. That is why this wood is often used for furniture that is used outdoors.

Is eucalyptus poisonous to humans?
Eucalyptus is poisonous to young children. Adults can tolerate it in small quantities, which is why it is often used as a medicinal plant.

Is eucalyptus poisonous to dogs, cats, or horses?
Eucalyptus is poisonous to cats, dogs and horses. The essential oil of the plant, in particular, is dangerous. Pets should therefore be kept away from eucalyptus plants. When an animal has consumed large amounts of the plant, it often shows symptoms such as increased salivation, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, and depression.

Which animal eats eucalyptus?
The koala is the only animal that feeds in large quantities and exclusively on the various species of eucalyptus.

Why do koalas only eat eucalyptus?
The koala has specialized in the eucalyptus leaves because this has a great advantage for them: There is no other animal of this size that can tolerate such large amounts of eucalyptus. Although it feeds on only one plant in a very one-sided manner, it always has enough food available.

Is Eucalyptus Healthy?
Eucalyptus is poisonous in larger quantities, but in small doses it is considered a healthy medicinal plant that works well against cold symptoms.

Why shouldn't eucalyptus be ingested during pregnancy?
Eucalyptus is poisonous for unborn babies and young children and has a similar effect to alcohol. Preparations containing eucalyptus must therefore be avoided during pregnancy.

What are the effects of eucalyptus?
Eucalyptus oil is used to loosen stuck mucus from the sinuses and bronchi. It makes it easier to cough up the mucus and is therefore a suitable remedy for colds. At the same time, eucalyptus oil can be used externally because it has a cooling effect and inhibits the growth of bacteria. Some of the ingredients in eucalyptus have anti-inflammatory properties.

How does eucalyptus smell and taste?
If you rub the leaves between your fingers, they give off a very aromatic scent. The taste of eucalyptus is just as aromatic and refreshing.

Where can you buy eucalyptus leaves?
Dried eucalyptus leaves are available in online shops and in pharmacies.


Eurosiden II
Order: myrtle-like (Myrtales)
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtaceae)
Subfamily: Myrtoideae
Tribe: Eucalypteae
Genus: Eucalyptus

Scientific name


Article image: © Olaf Speier / Shutterstock

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