The myths about Eucalypts – true or false?
By Ewa Meyer, gum tree hugger.
Last month’s EcoUpdate was delivered to you on National Eucalypt Day (23 March), so I thought I’d follow up and let you know that the results of the poll for favourite Eucalypt for 2022 are in and the winner is … the magnificent Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans).
In second place was the eye-catching Red Flowering Gum (Corymbia ficifolia) and third was the iconic Sydney Red Gum aka Smooth-barked Apple (Angophora costata).
The Mountain Ash is the tallest flowering plant in the world and can reach over 85 metres in height. Many of the largest specimens were logged in the 1800s and one tree was measured at 132m tall. Today, they are the second tallest trees in the world after the California Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).2
Eucalypt Australia is a charitable trust that awards grants to support the conservation, education, and research of eucalypts. The Trust envisages a public inspired by and appreciative of eucalypts. Held annually on 23 March, National Eucalypt Day aims to raise awareness of eucalypts and celebrate the important place that they hold in the hearts and lives of Australians.3
Images: Catherine Cavallo
Why do so many misconceptions about eucalypts abound?
They seem to be as widespread and diverse as the eucalypts themselves. Eucalypt Australia asked eucalyptologist Dr Dean Nicolle to do some mythbusting and here are some of the most popular ones:
- Size myths (they’re too big for urban areas)
- Danger myths (they fall over, they shed branches, and they’re out to get you!)
- Garden myths (they have invasive roots, the leaves poison the soil, etc.)
- Fire myths (they need fire, they cause fire, they spontaneously combust…)
- Koala myths (and the related Drop Bear myth…)
- Plus over 20 other eucalypt myths of varying types.
Like any good myth, their origins often contain an element of truth. Eucalypts include some of the tallest trees in the world. Some eucalypts can shed branches. Many eucalypts are adapted to wildfire. Eucalypts do have roots. And koalas do eat eucalypts. But if you dig a little deeper, most of these eucalypt myths are based on gross generalisations, to the point of being quite misleading. READ the full article on the Remember the Wild website.4,5
Growing Eucalypts at home
Most people think they can’t grow gum trees in a small or suburban-sized garden. But you definitely can! You can even grow some of them in pots.
At the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne in Victoria, a self-guided trail was created showing visitors which small Eucalypts are ideal for home gardeners. If you’d like to learn more and maybe give it a go, there are some informative short videos on Eucalypt Australia’s website on how to select, grow and maintain suitable eucalypts in the home garden. Take a look here.
If you live in Sydney or plan to visit before 28 August, why not visit the EUCALYPTUSDOM exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum?
‘Eucalyptusdom reckons with our cultural history and ever-changing relationship with the gum tree, presenting over 400 objects from the Powerhouse Collection alongside 17 newly commissioned works by creative practitioners working across the fields of design, architecture, film, applied arts and performance. They critically respond to the Museum’s collection and colonial history, as well as explore their own personal connection to the eucalypt.’
A program of performances, talks and masterclasses unpacks the exhibition, exploring layered perspectives from First Nations artists, diverse creative practitioners and communities; investigating the realm of eucalypts through the complexity of place, arts, science and cultural heritage.
There are artist-led tours, essential oils workshops and science talks. ‘Eucalypts in a changing climate’ from Associate Professor Ben Moore an ecologist with a focus on the chemical, nutritional and physiological ecology of Australian marsupials, like the koala, that feed on Eucalyptus.
Entry is free.
- EUCALYPTUSDOM – mobile phone friendly layout
- The Conversation – Mountain ash has a regal presence: the tallest flowering plant in the world – The Conversation
- Eucalypt Australia
- Eucalypt mythbusting: a comprehensive guide by Remember the Wild.
- Eucalypt, a film series by Remember the Wild
- Treemendous Talents – NSW National Parks
- The eucalypts, which include Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia, are native to Australia and Malesia and include over 800 named species in a mixture of diverse and depauperate lineages. A dated molecular perspective of eucalypt taxonomy, evolution and diversification