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Issue No 96
Fall 2003 
page 23

Battling the Insects
In certain regions of the world where malarial fever rages, people refer to the Tasmanian glue gum as the "fever tree".

The bark of certain species peels naturally in long strips or ribbons, making noises similar to paper or linen being torn. For this reason, they’ve earned the nickname "stringybarks."

Keep your indoor eucalyptus near a sunny window, or at least ten hours under lights. Provide well-drained soil, and water moderately. You can shape your potted plants further into branching, leafy bushes with frequent pruning.

Eucalypti belong to a large genus of well over 500 species of mostly evergreen trees, and sometimes shrubs, in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae).

Jesse Vernon Trail is a grower, horticulturist, and teacher who holds a certificate in herbalism from the UK. He lives in British Columbia.

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ish the fragrance. In fact, several species of eucalyptus are harvested for their essential oils, used in perfumery and potpourris. The lemon eucalyptus, E citriodora, is particularly special in this regard. It has lovely mid- to light-green foliage that’s softly fuzzy to the touch, and a powerful and incredibly delightful citrus fragrance. Even the wood of this species has a pleasant smell. When tossed into the campfire or fireplace, prunings emit a wonderful aroma.

    The leaves of the apple eucalyptus, E bridgesiana, emit a scent quite similar to that of fresh, ripe apples. (Use the gray juvenile foliage in floral arrangements.) The honey eucalyptus (E melliodora), as the name suggests, provides a honey scent, and it is an important bee plant in Australia. The peppermint eucalyptus, E radiata, provides an oil with a strong peppermint fragrance and flavor. Of all the mint eucalyptus species, this beautiful, sweeping variety has perhaps the strongest peppermint scent.

    Rich in color and pungent aroma, several species of eucalyptus also make excellent material for floral decorations, either fresh or dried. Silver dollar eucalyptus, E cinerea, also known as the argyle apple eucalyptus, has juvenile foliage of circular, silver-gray leaves with a bluish tinge. The silver dollar gum, E polyanthemos, has similar juvenile foliage, though its leaf color is more gray-green, often with a strong bluish tinge. The round-leaved snow gum, E perriniana, is perhaps the best species for rounded, juvenile cut foliage. Silver-blue in color, its stems appear to grow through the center of each fuzzy, rounded leaf. The cider gum, E gunnii, has striking, silver-blue young foliage which also boasts a silver-dollar shape. Its bark, a light reddish-brown, peels irregularly to reveal creamy white tones underneath.

Whether or not you happen to have a eucalyptus grove right in your neighborhood depends, in part, on the climate in which you live. But you can certainly bring the fragrance to your garden—or even indoors in the colder months. Your fresh-cut eucalyptus foliage will last a considerable amount of time in a vase, infusing the air with its trademark aroma.

Battling the Insects

In certain regions of the world where malarial fever rages, people refer to the Tasmanian blue gum as the “fever tree.” Mosquitoes, the carriers of the disease, favor swampy areas. This species of eucalyptus deprives them of this habitat with its almost insatiable appetite for moisture. Its roots will quickly dry marshy, unhealthy soils. Wherever blue gum begins to grow extensively, mosquitoes gradually disappear.

    Eucalyptus oil works well as a repellent from insects of all sorts. Mix a teaspoon into a cup-and-a-half of warm water and rub it onto your skin. Alternatively, make a eucalyptus bug spray. Experiment mixing finely powdered leaves, soaked overnight in water, with varying amounts of cayenne pepper, garlic, and a little dish soap.

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