History of the Majestic Eucalyptus Tree and its Environmental and Health Benefits

Giant Trees too Short and Bushy Plants

Eucalyptus is a tree species belonging to the Myrtaceae family with its origin in Australia. It has more than 900 variants, ranging from giant trees too short and bushy plants. Despite the differences, one can easily identify a eucalyptus tree by its exfoliating bark and pungent aroma.

In the year 1777, David Nelson, an English botanist collected a eucalypt sample from Tasmania’s Bruny Island. When the sample reached London’s British Museum, Charles-Louis L’Heritier, a French Botanist, gave it the name Eucalyptus oblique. The Greek word ‘eu’ means ‘well’ and ‘calyptos’ means ‘covered’. The word ‘obliqua’ has been added to its name owing to the eucalypt sample leaf’s oblique appearance.

In later years, several other eucalyptus species have been discovered as more explorers and settlers started exploring Australia. 1788, James Edward Smith, another botanist from England, discovered three unique eucalyptus species.

The journey of eucalyptus to California

As eucalyptus spread throughout Europe and its colonies, Californian settlers also became interested in decorating California with this tree, chiefly for fuel, pulp, timber, wood, and medicine. The person who carried it to San Francisco was Ellwood Cooper, an entrepreneur. He took the initiative of growing 200 acres of this beautiful tree. After that, several forest tycoons have planted countless acres of this tree in America over the years. Now, the parks of San Francisco are filled with the fast-growing, graceful and sturdy eucalyptus tree.

Health benefits of this tree

The Australian aboriginals were the ones who discovered the amazing health benefits of the eucalyptus tree. Since then, it has been used for medicinal purposes in several countries. The most well-known health benefits of eucalyptus are:

  • Takes care of oral health
  • Eliminates bacteria
  • Acts as a pain reliever
  • Provides respiratory relief

Environmental benefits of the eucalyptus tree

Eucalyptus trees have far-reaching value in our environment.

  1. Favorite food of koalas- The favorite food of koalas is eucalyptus leaves. Though other animals fail to digest too much of these leaves, the digestive tract of koalas contains endless beneficial bacteria for breaking down eucalyptus leaves.
  2. Carbon storage- With the increasing risks of climate change, the importance of carbon storage cannot be denied. Eucalyptus is known for sequestering carbon. Of all the eucalyptus species, blue gem stores the maximum amount of carbon.
  3. Pollution control- Like all other trees, eucalyptus helps control pollution.
  4. Wildlife habitat- Eucalyptus trees also form an excellent habitat for wildlife. The flowers of eucalyptus are also a good source of nectar. So, a wide range of birds build their nests on these trees and birds and insects feed on these plants.
  5. Slows water run-off- San Francisco has been trying hard for slowing water run-off in order to prevent rainwater from running off. The roots of the eucalyptus tree suck in water, let it soak into the ground and thus stops the rainwater from running off.

Apart from the benefits of eucalyptus mentioned above, the indigenous people of Australia also use it for making tools, instruments, and weapons.

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Bratati Roy

Bratati is an author, member and social worker of Nature Talkies.

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