Eucalyptus /ˌjuːkəˈlɪptəs/ L’Heritier 1789 is a diverse genus of flowering trees and shrubs (including a distinct group with a multiple-stem mallee growth habit) in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, also known as gum trees. Also see Trees and Shrubs and Flowering Trees and Shrubs.
A common non-native tree found in many London gardens and parks. They grow fast and large in our climate and are jokingly the tree surgeons friend as they require pruning regularly.
Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia. There are more than 700 species of eucalyptus and are mostly native of Australia, and a very small number are found in adjacent areas of New Guinea and Indonesia. One species, Eucalyptus deglupta, ranges as far north as the Philippines. Only 15 species occur outside Australia, with just nine of these not occurring in Australia. Species of eucalyptus are cultivated widely in the tropical and temperate world, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, China, and the Indian subcontinent, though most species do not tolerate frost.
Eucalyptus is one of three similar genera that are commonly referred to as “eucalypts”, the others being Corymbia and Angophora. Many species, but far from all, are known as gum trees because they exude copious kino from any break in the bark (e.g., scribbly gum). The generic name is derived from the Greek words ευ (eu) “well” and καλύπτω (kalýpto) “to cover”, referring to the operculum on the calyx that initially conceals the flower.
Some eucalyptus species have attracted attention from horticulturists, global development researchers, and environmentalists because of desirable traits such as being fast-growing sources of wood, producing oil that can be used for cleaning and as a natural insecticide, or an ability to be used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria. Eucalyptus oil finds many uses like in aromatherapy, as a cure for joint pains. Eucalyptus trees show allelopathic effects; they release compounds which inhibit other plant species from growing nearby. Outside their natural ranges, eucalypts are both lauded for their beneficial economic impact on poor populations and criticised for being “water-guzzling” aliens, leading to controversy over their total impact.
On warm days, eucalyptus forests are sometimes shrouded in a smog-like mist of vaporised volatile organic compounds (terpenoids); the Australian Blue Mountains take their name from the haze. Wikipedia