June 12, 2018 > Eucalyptus Examined
By Pat Kite
Eucalyptus trees and shrubs don?t have much of a California fan club. Their contribution to assorted fires keeps planting folk leery. However, according to Flower Arranger magazine, eucalyptus is simply splendid for aromatic flower arrangements. Let?s look.
There are more than 700 species, or types, of Eucalyptus. The ?little? ones get to 33 feet tall. The taller ones get over 200 feet tall. Several species are among the tallest trees in the world. Only coast redwoods are taller.
During the Gold Rush, back in the 1850s, Australians introduced Eucalyptus to California. Our State government was enthusiastic. Thousands were planted for use as railway ties, furniture making and construction. This didn?t work out well. Wood for furniture warped. Dried wood was too tough for railway ties. But the trees remained. They were used as windbreaks, shade and ornamentals. Fortunately, and unfortunately, Eucalyptus leaves are chock full of oil. Leaf litter piles are highly flammable. Super-hot days and careless folk make a Eucalyptus forest a torch.
On the other hand, there is a super business these days in extracted Eucalyptus oil. It is a disinfectant, a cleansing agent, a deodorizing agent, a decongestant, a cough drop ingredient, a wound antiseptic, and an insect repellent. Insects, birds, and bats love the flower nectar. The nectar from some species of Eucalyptus can be used to create honey.
However, some folk are allergic to Eucalyptus aroma and ingredients. Also, excess nibbling on the leaves will make you sick. All this pro and con brings us back to flower arranging. Young leaves are best for fresh designs. Cut stems at a 45-degree angle. Place cuttings in warm water with added flower food. Eliminate any leaves below the water line. Recut tips before placing in a vase with water. Cuttings can last up to three weeks. Use older stems for dried flower arrangements. They can last for years.
For more Eucalyptus fun, make a wreath. You can use just one variety, but a mixed leaf wreath is quite lovely. For ideas, check out the Internet. Online prices start at about $60 and go up. One really cute one has lemons tucked into the wreath, yellow charming against the grey. If you want a Eucalyptus project, try growing from seed. First find a tree you like. The Silver Dollar plant is often preferred for flower arranging. To collect, after the flowers fall off, the woody seed capsules remain. Open and shake over purchased soil. Lightly cover. Mist daily. Once seeds sprout, you can carefully move sprouts into small pots and onward. Remember, Eucalyptus get to be very big trees and grow very energetically.