5 Facts About Eucalyptus Trees: Nature's Aromatic Giants

Thursday, 23 March 2023

  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

This one’s for the gum nuts!

Here are 5 things you might not know about Australia’s most iconic trees.

  1. From small shrubs to the world’s tallest flowering plant, eucalypts have been in Australia for at least 60 million years and continue to dominate our landscape today. Most eucalypt species are native to Australia, but some are endemic to South-East Asia.
  2. Once a rainforest species, eucalypts have evolved and adapted over millions of years to a hotter, drier climate – and they’re well-known for their ability to tolerate drought, fire and nutrient-poor soil. From gums, stringybarks, box, ironbarks and mallees – you can find eucalypts everywhere from our cities and towns, across our temperate woodlands and wet coastal forests and even in our arid inland and sub-alpine areas.
  3. Eucalypts are as important to our ecosystems as they are popular – and many animals rely on them for food and shelter. Many eucalypts produce large numbers of colourful, nectar-rich flowers – which are an important food source for insects, mammals and birds like honeyeaters and lorikeets. Some animals also feast on their seeds and leaves.
  4. Mature eucalypts also provide hollows for hundreds of species to roost, nest and shelter in – but these usually take a very long time (sometimes hundreds of years) to form. Unfortunately, mature trees are often removed to make way for our sprawling cities – meaning these critical nesting trees are becoming increasingly rare. A recent study* found that removing just 5 mature eucalypts from an urban park or open space halves the number of native birds present.
  5. Covering over 100 million hectares, eucalypt forests make up almost 80% of Australia’s forests. But since colonisation, our woodlands have been extensively cleared – and of Australia’s 822 eucalypt species, over 193 qualify as threatened.
A scarlet Honeyeater hanging from a Eucalypt branch looking over at pink flowers
A Scarlet Honeyeater hanging from a Eucalypt branch. Image by Jennifer Carrigan, via BirdLife Photography Awards

There are over 900 types of Eucalypts in Australia. These ancient and remarkable trees need to be protected – especially our old-growth eucalypt forests – from logging and development.