Blake’s Eucalyptus Trees
Recent clearing along the northern edge of the Australian Hollow has exposed several of Blake Garden’s beautiful eucalyptus trees. Until about month ago these were among the mystery trees of Blake Garden. We have identified them as E. ovata (Swamp Gum), E. polyanthemos (Silver Dollar Eucalyptus, or Redbox gum), and E. obliqua (Messmate, or Australian Oak). Eucalyptus obliqua was the first eucalyptus cultivated outside Australia. Seed was taken to England in 1774 and successfully grown at Kew Gardens. Eucalyptus is an enormous genus; here in California, over 700 species are in cultivation. While most are tree ranging from 20’ to over 350’, there are also multistemmed types known as mallees, and even a few shrubs which are less than three feet tall. While a few problematic species has given the genus a bad name, eucalyptus is an economically valuable tree. It is the second most important cultivated timber and pulp tree (after pines) in the world. Approximately 75,000 square miles worldwide are planted in eucalyptus plantations. Eucalyptus are of value to honey production, provide shelter and nectar for migrating monarch butterflies, and are a source of essential oils. Furthermore, the leaves and bark are an excellent, substantive dye source for wool. Colors range from khakis, greens, browns, and even brilliant oranges. Watch for the upcoming post on dyeing with eucalyptus.