The genus, Eucalyptus comes from the Greek words eu, for ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’, and kalyptos, for ‘to hide’,’to conceal’ or to’mask’. This refers to the flower whose petals grow to form a hard cap, which comes off like a lid when the flower expands. The Latin globulus is the diminutive form of ‘globus’ (globe), i.e. ‘globule’ and refers to the shape of the fruit.
The names ‘fever tree’ and ‘blue gum tree’ refer to the use of the tree to drain swamps inhabited by the anopheles mosquito. The Eucalyptus requires large quantities of water to support its rapid growth. Many swamp areas in northern Australia and in the Mediterranean region have been drained by planting them with Eucalyptus forests. This eliminates the basis of life for the anopheles mosquito, which carries malaria organisms.
The Eucalyptus is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 20 m within 8 years. About 70 m high at maturity, it is among the tallest trees on earth. The straight trunk has an ash grey bark. The wood beneath is white to reddish, very hard, and rot-resistant.
The leathery, blue-green-grey leaves of the young tree are roundish, later turning long and sickle-shaped with a distinctive central vein and point-shaped oil glands. The leaves can be up to 30 cm long .
The flowers form apical, erect clusters and thick-walled capsules. When the flowers wither, the cover bursts open, revealing whitish to reddish tufts of filaments.
Eucalyptus trees flower from February to July.
The Eucalyptus is native to Australia and Tasmania. As a decorative and wood-producing tree, it is now found in all subtropical climate zones.
A.Vogel uses the essential oil from fresh leaves and branch tips. The volatile oil is obtained by aqueous distillation, then further processed to remove the aldehydes, which have an irritant effect on the respiratory tract. Eucalyptus globulus oil is imported primarily from Spain and Portugal. Australian Eucalyptus oil is extracted from Eucalyptus smithii R.T. BAK. or Eu. fruticetorum F. VON MUELL. These oils are also used medicinally.
An infusion can be prepared from the cut leaves.