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Herb Spotlight: Eucalyptus

Updated: Jul 17, 2023


If you know me, you know that I am a plant collector. I enjoy adding unique varieties of different species to my green space for both biodiversity & for enjoyment.


I currently have 3 collector plants: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, & Lavender.


But I must say, eucalyptus is the plant I am most enamored with. It is TOP of my list anytime I hit a nursery! It has many uses, and it's versatility of color and fragrance lend it to MANY a DIY project!


There are many reasons for my fascination, so I am here to share some of the best uses, benefits, and other properties that I find interesting.

First thing is first though....when you think eucalyptus, its very common to picture a big tree or bush. Don't let that stature fool you, because eucalyptus has just as many herbal properties as a basil, rosemary, or any other herb you may find out in your garden.


Originating in Australia and parts of Tasmania, this diverse plant has over 500+ identified species to it's name. These species can also range in many different sizes, anywhere from small bushes to large towering trees that are hundreds of feet tall!


The distinct and fragrant oil of a eucalyptus plant or tree is a property that makes these them more flammable than species native here in the US. So when incorporating these beauties into your herb garden or landscaping, make sure to keep that in mind!


In the last several decades, Eucalyptus has become an extremely popular plant, because it makes a beautiful landscaping addition (by now you know I am a little partial!) But in the last several years, we have also seen wildfires run rampant in the west. Which happens to be one of the zones where these beauties thrive.


So with all of that being said, it is extremely important to stay mindful when introducing non-native species such as eucalyptus. It is a step that must be taken with care given the highly flammable nature of eucalyptus oil and bark. Thing dry climate - highly flammable tree. There are activists out west who are trying to spread awareness for this very cause. So I find it an important tip to pass along to any new plant parent.


KNOW what you GROW!

In addition to the flammable nature of eucalyptus oil and bark, the root networks of these trees can change the composition of the soil around them (as most trees do).

Consider this my fair warning - be sure you are adding this plant to your scape with prudence.


Personally, I like to keep my eucalyptus in large barrels or pots, because I live on the Florida panhandle. While eucalyptus would DEFINITELY grow and flourish here, its important to keep in mind the composition of the soil and the effects that planting a new tree would have on the mini-ecosystem I have cultivated in my yard.


Pro Tip: Experiment with fertilizers. SUPERthrive is my all time personal favorite! But a little nourishment can go a LONG way!


 

Now that those details are out of the way.....

Let's talk about herb information and benefits!

Most of us are familiar with eucalyptus oil in some form or fashion.

Whether it's an ingredient in your favorite throat lozenge, healing ointment, vapor rub, perfume, or cough drop....Eucalyptus oil's distinct fragrance is just that for a reason.

This oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and is commonly used to treat respiratory conditions. It helps to jump start your immune system, improve respiratory circulation, and even provides antioxidant protection.



If you are feeling a little skeptical about the powers of this particular plant...Check the back of the Vick's VapoRub in your medicine cabinet! Chances are that eucalyptus oil is responsible for helping quell that nasty cough, cold, or congestion that you have been nursing!


With allergy season in full swing, I have been a huge fan of eucalyptus shower steamers. Vick's makes their own brand, but I have been trying my hand at DIY Steamers to align more closely with my wellness journey. Can't wait to share that recipe with you guys!


At the end of the day, eucalyptus oil works wonders when it comes to clearing your sinuses and quelling congestion because of the anti-inflammatory properties it holds. And fortunately there are MANY ways you can incorporate it into your wellness regimen.



Another property that makes this plant so special is it's ability to fight off infection. Eucalyptus oil and eucalyptol have strong antimicrobial properties. This means that they can fight off many types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.



Studies prove that eucalyptus can be used topically, meaning directly on the skin, to fight off the microorganisms that make you sick. Which only sheds light on why this oil acts as such a powerful immunity booster!


When delving into topical uses, there are MANY. Eucalyptus oil has proven itself effective against insect bites, wounds, athlete's foot, cold sores, blisters, cuts, and more. Again, this explains why this oil is used so commonly as a healing ointment.


Even further, Eucalyptus oil is often advertised as "clarifying", "purifying" or "invigorating."

And the science behind the marketing holds true! This oil can help clear air passages to help oxygen pass through the body, which can clear brain fog and improve mental clarity! We have ALL had a little fog lately, but one thing holds true. A natural remedy like this can't be ignored - it's worth a shot!


By now you may be seeing, just as I have, that eucalyptus is a MUST-HAVE for any avid gardener or at-home herbalist!



 


So to recap...eucalyptus oil presents as antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal...and if you aren't sold by now, maybe you will be when you take a whiff of the fragrant scent that each species has to offer! Having collected a few plants myself, I can attest to the fact that each unique plant has it's own pleasant variation of the woodsy and pungent scent that we all know and love. Some varieties in my garden even produce beautiful flowers and blooms!!


We all know and love the classic Silver Dollar Eucalyptus used in weddings and floral arrangements. But then there are some variations that you may not suspect to be in the eucalyptus family at first glance. And those are some of my favorites!


The Moon Lagoon Dwarf Eucalyptus that I have growing in my front gardenscape is one for the books. This species produces a vibrant red flower that is beautiful in season. But even when it's not, cuttings of this plant make a fantastic addition to any cut flower arrangement or bouquet!


There are many varieties available, and I find that the best place to purchase eucalyptus - both mature plants & fresh cuttings - tends to be a local nursery or farmers market!



 

Comment below with YOUR favorite uses for this amazing herb! & share your favorite recipes that incorporate eucalyptus!


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