Eucalyptus: A Truly Magical Plant

Eucalyptus: A Truly Magical Plant

September 27, 2017

Of the millions of species of plants found on Earth, there are only a handful that have as incredible a background as Eucalyptus.

If you read the Corked Blogs (and we hope you do!) you’ll know that one of those plants is the Cork Tree - today we’ll learn all about Eucalypts; an absolutely fascinating Genus of plants.

We’ll start from the beginning, nearly 51 million years ago, in a time that the oldest found Eucalypt fossil originated [1]. During this time period, the Paleogene Period, fossilized organic matter were frozen in ice due to the rapid expansion of ice sheets from the poles, and this phenomenon is the primary reason that such fossils have survived as long as they have. Scientists have gathered a lot of data from Eucalypt fossils, like where certain continents had been located earlier in the Earth’s timeline, as Eucalypts are believed to have originated almost exclusively from Australia, where they are most prominent now [1].

Because of their interesting biology, Eucalypts are both revered for their economic value and abhorred for their potential to harm. In many places that Eucalypts grow, whether plantations or natural forests, fires due to the plants are nearly impossible to extinguish. This is due to the makeup of volatile compounds and flammable gases that are released by the leaves over time [2]. In addition to the release of potentially harmful gases, the genus Eucalypt is full of species that are incredibly invasive. In places in which they grow in large volume, they choke out all other species of plants and make it almost insurmountable for new species to penetrate those areas. On top of this, due to the high density of their bark and limbs, Eucalypt trees are more likely to drop branches than other trees. This can cause a hazard to campers and hikers, as they could potentially be harmed by falling branches while journeying through Eucalypt forests. On the plus side, however, Eucalypts are the primary source of timber for pulp and paper mills [5], and they produce the oils that we so love for healing purposes! Finally, and just because this is so interesting, Eucalyptus trees are great for...prospecting gold? Yes. You read that correctly. Gold. Because of how deep the roots of Eucalyptus trees are, they are known to extend down into mineral deposits below ground. Eucalyptus trees are notorious for drawing dramatic amounts of groundwater to support their rapid growth. So, while their roots are so deep, they end up sucking up some of the minerals into which they’ve rooted themselves. In some cases, those minerals are Gold. As the tree grows, it propels water and mineral deposit into its leaves, where prospectors have been known to find Gold deposits from time to time! [4]

Australia is home to nearly 700 species of Eucalyptus trees, with nearly 75% of all vegetation on Australia being from the Genus Eucalypt. To put this into an even more breathtaking perspective, 227,336,951 acres of Australian land is covered in Eucalypt forest [3]. Outside of Australia, there are only 15 species of Eucalyptus trees that can be found, and only 9 of those species are specifically non-Australian [3].

Now that we’ve covered the origins of Eucalypts, let’s begin the journey to answering the big question: What can Eucalyptus essential oil do for me?

The process of extracting Eucalyptus oils from the leaves of Eucalyptus trees employs a simple steam-distillation technique and is practiced only on a handful of different species of Eucalypt. Eucalyptus oil has been known to carry many medicinal properties as well as industrial properties that make for an effective pesticide and insect repellent. The most prevalent cineole-based version of Eucalyptus oil is commonly used as a component in different pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter remedies for colds and influenza [6]. Most notably, cough drops, lozenges, ointments, and inhalants. The oil itself contains chemical components that give off a cooling/menthol scent and vapor which is why it is effective in cold medications, but because of this quality, it is also commonly used for massage and muscle relaxation. In a finite medical sense, Eucalyptus oil can be used to fight bacteria as an antibacterial agent, can speed the healing of wounds as an analgesic, and can reduce inflammation in muscles! Although there is not enough evidence to prove this, early research shows that the chemical Cineole, found in Eucalyptus oil, can be effective in reducing mucus secretion in airways as well as assist in controlling the symptoms of asthma [7]. As a diffused oil, Eucalyptus can be very powerful as a decongestant, and assist with brightening the palette to help increase focus. In our diffusers, Eucalyptus acts not only as a decongestant and focus agent but also as an antiseptic in the mouth! Who would have thought that something as simple as a cough drop could be born of the oils from such a fascinating plant? Not me, that’s for sure. Eucalyptus is not only an incredible plant, historically speaking, but carries medicinal properties that every living person could take advantage of! Mother Nature sure knows what she’s doing, doesn’t she?



1. Gandolfo, María A., et al. “Oldest Known Eucalyptus Macrofossils Are from South America.”PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 28 June 2011,
2. Reid, J.B. & Potts, B.M. (2005). Eucalypt Biology. In: Reid et al. (eds.) Vegetation of Tasmania., pp. 198-223. Australian Government
3. “Eucalypt Forest.” Forests Australia Eucalypt Forest, Australian Government,
4. Quick, Darren. “‘Gold Leaf’ Trees Discovered in the Australian Outback.” New Atlas - New Technology & Science News, New Atlas, 23 Oct. 2013,
5. Nanko, Hirko; Button, Allan; Hillman, Dave (2005). The World of Market Pulp. Appleton, WI, USA: WOMP, LLC. pp. 107–109.
6. Lu, XQ; Tang, FD; Wang, Y; Zhao, T; Bian, RL (2004). "Effect of Eucalyptus globulus oil on lipopolysaccharide-induced chronic bronchitis and mucin hypersecretion in rats". Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica.
7. Juergens, U.R; Dethlefsen, U; Steinkamp, G; Gillissen, A; Repges, R; Vetter, H (2003). "Anti-inflammatory activity of 1.8-cineol (eucalyptol) in bronchial asthma: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial". Respiratory Medicine.


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