Tasmania Blue Gum
Eucalyptus globulus, more commonly known as the Tasmanian Blue Gum is a tree native to Tasmania that is part of the family Myrtaceae. “Eucalyptus” is Greek; ‘eu’ means well, while ‘kalypto’ means to cover. The naming refers to the cap arrangement, the operculum that this plant has to protect its stamens. “Globulus” is Latin for ‘spherical’ because of the shape of the fruits on the tree. In addition, its common name ‘Blue gum’ comes from the fact that the leaves are coated with a waxy substance.
E. globulus has been widely introduced to other places of the world and has been naturalized in California and Hawaii. This species is the best known eucalyptus and is the most extensively planted as it is able to adapt to most climates. However, the best areas for this tree are those with mild, temperate climates or even in tropical areas as long as it is elevated where the air is cooler. It should be noted that E. globulus trees are unable to grow in the shade or in regions of low light intensity. In terms of soil quality, it prefers soil that have good drainage, low salt content and a depth of more than 0.6 metres. The trees are tolerant to drought, and may be resistant to frost with increased capability with age. While known as being a tall evergreen tree reaching heights of 70 metres, E. globulus is also known to exist as a shrub or as a medium sized tree that can be 30 to 55 metres tall. The tree will have obtained the majority of its growth by the time it is 10 years old.
This tree is used as a sight and sound barrier along roads since it is strong and growths protrude from the stem. When planted in conjunction with smaller trees and shrubs, the efficiency of the windbreak ability of E. globulus is maximized. The bark on the trunks produce pulpwood that is optimal for paper production yields.
Tasminia blue gum are able to generate new stems from the stump, if cut down. This ability is known as coppicing and is especially useful when they get cut down for firewood. These trees are used for wood as it burns cleanly, leaving very little ash. As well, the flowers contain great sources of nectar for honey production. Bee farmers take advantage of this and will attempt to raise their bees where eucalyptus trees are growing. Even the leaves of E. globulus are used by both animals and humans.
The leaves of E. globulus trees contain a compound called eucalyptol which may be extracted to produce eucalyptus oil from either fresh or partially dried leaves. This essential oil is medicinal and has been used for a variety of conditions including acting as a pain-reliever, an anti-septic, and anti-inflammatory. The oil is used for the strengthening of the respiratory system. What has been confirmed is that this oil is toxic and may irritate the intestines; it is fatal if consumed in large enough doses. Meanwhile, koala bears are resistant to this oil and are able to eat a substantial amount of eucalyptus leaves as part of their diets. Any rainwater that collects on the leaf serves as the koala’s water source.
Overall, the Eucalyptus globulus tree is extensive in what it has to offer to various organisms from insects to mammals. An advantage is that this tree can coppice, providing more goods from the one tree than most other plants could. Caution should be exercised by humans when taking advantage of the medicinal properties of eucalyptus oil. Further research may be conducted to confirm the capability of eucalyptol to treating ailments.
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Esser, L. (1993). Index of Species Information. U.S Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Retrieved from http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/eucglo/all.html
Hamilton, L. (2011). Managing coppice in Eucalypt plantations. State Government of Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/forestry/private-land-forestry/pruning-thinning-harvesting/managing-coppice-in-eucalypt-plantations
Hopper S. Smith R. (n.d). Eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian blue gum). Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. Retrieved from http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Eucalyptus-globulus.htm
Koala Facts – Diet. (2012). Friends of the Koalas. Retrieved from http://home.vicnet.net.au/~koalas/factsdiet.html
Skolmen R. Ledig T. (n.d). Bluegum Eucalyptus. Retrieved from http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/eucalyptus/globulus.htm