An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.
Eucalyptus, Blue Gum - Eucalyptus globulus - family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family).
This evergreen tree may grow to about two hundred feet high. It is native to New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania in Australia. It has long sickle-shaped aromatic gray-green leaves that hang vertically. Its oval-shaped juvenile leaves are bluish in color and are the source of its name, Blue Gum. In the winter and spring it has silver-bluish buds which open to produce clusters of whitish-yellow flowers. The flowers are followed by hard woody capsules which contain small black seeds. The Blue Gum tree is a familiar sight in coastal California. Its seeds were imported about one hundred and forty years ago to be planted to create windbreaks in both urban and rural areas. These trees were also cultivated with an eye to harvesting them as sources of timber in a few years. In Australia Blue Gum trees that had been standing for centuries yielded excellent timber when they were cut down. California tree growers, however, discovered much to their dismay, that young Blue Gum trees, from five to fifteen years old yielded very poor quality timber. So the plantations and groves that had been planted as a future timber supply remained in place as part of the landscape in coastal California. Australian aborigines and pioneers have traditionally used leaves for treatment of colds, coughs, diarrhea, fever, headache, rheumatism, sore eyes and wounds. The essential oil, which is distilled from the leaves, is used in modern times in an extremely diluted form as an inhalant for allergies, asthma, bronchitis, colds, coughs, earaches, hay fever, sore throats and lung infections. Modern American folk use of leaf tea as a remedy for diabetes. The German Commission E has approved the use of leaf as an internal remedy for coughs and bronchitis. The German Commission E has approved the use of essential oil as an internal and external remedy for coughs and bronchitis. The German Commission E has approved the use of essential oil as an external remedy for rheumatism. Note: leaves may be toxic if taken internally. Note: do not use Eucalyptus internally if you have gall bladder problems, kidney problems or liver problems. Note: do not use Eucalyptus internally if you are pregnant or nursing. Note: essential oil is quite toxic in its undiluted form: do not take internally. The Blue Gum is a source of Eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptol), which is distilled from the leaves and is used in the manufacture of perfumes and in medicines. Traditional American folk use of aromatic leaves and seed capsules as an insect repellent. Leaves and bark are sources of dyes. Listed in the United States Pharmacopoeias from 1880 to 1940. Native to Victoria and Tasmania in Australia. Cultivated as an ornamental in warmer parts of western North America, including Arizona, California, Hawai'i and Mexico. Blue gums have been planted from the southern tip of coastal Oregon, in much of the California coastal region and along the west coast of the mainland of Mexico down to Ixtapa and Acapulco in the State of Guerrero. Sometimes cultivated as a houseplant.
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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.