Family to the melaleuca tree, the eucalyptus tree belongs to the myrtle family. Both trees have characteristically fragrant leaves that contain powerful essential oils. doTERRA Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus radiata, has a peppermint-like aroma, which is used to help clear the mind, promote relaxation and vitality, and allow for feelings of clear breathing and open airways. Find out more ways to use Eucalyptus oil on our uses and benefits page.
Eucalyptus oil hails from Australia, where various parts of the tree from its bark to its leaves were and are used by the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples for tools, shields, musical instruments, and health purposes.
Australia is home to almost all 700 known species of eucalyptus trees. These various species can dramatically range in height, anywhere from 30 to 200 feet high. The tallest eucalyptus tree, the Mountain Ash, can reach over 301 feet. The eucalyptus radiata tree is typically about 98 feet tall, sometimes reaching up to 164 feet.
Anywhere the trees are planted in the world, they consume a large amount of water. Explorers brought the eucalyptus tree to California in the late 1800s with high hopes of providing a source of fuel through timber, and reducing malaria by draining swamps. The tree proved to be indestructible, adopting itself to the land, consuming large amounts of water. Unfortunately they also have an allelopathic effect on the environment, meaning they inhibit other plant-life from growing nearby. Disputes have been raised regarding the removal of these trees, as they also act as tinder in the dry and fire-prone state.
When it comes to fire, the trees are uniquely adapted to surviving. Dormant shoots deep inside the tree only germinate when triggered by the high heat of fire. This means that they grow back fairly quickly, as compared to other plants that take much more time to recover after a fire.
Anytime you see a picture of a koala, it’s in a tree. The tree you see it spending its time in is none other than the eucalyptus tree. This is because the koala can survive on a diet of eucalyptus leaves, regardless of the fact they’re low in nutrition, though it’s particular about the species of eucalyptus it will eat. The leaves of the eucalyptus also contain protective poisons toxic to leaf-eating animals, insects, and humans if taken internally in large amounts. These poisons are harmless to koalas, as their digestive systems are able to detoxify the leaves.
Blue is in the Air
In the Blue Mountains of Australia a unique, blue haze can be seen from far away, giving the mountains their name. But it’s not quite a mystery why—thanks to the high number of Eucalyptus trees that grow there, finely dispersed oil droplets are in the air that combine with dust and water vapor. This combination then scatter rays of light and creates the haze that is blue in color.
The Eucalyptus oil that we all know and love comes from these same copious oil glands on the leaves that produce the blue haze. The oil is collected by steam distillation. The steam passes through the leaves, carries the aromatic compounds into a collecting tube, and then becomes water again as it cools. The essential oil, being unable to dissolve in water, is then easily removed from the water.