Eucalyptus ‘Gum’ trees
There are over 800 species of eucalyptus found across Australia. They look similar except for the shapes and sizes of their fruits and flowers. In fact, Eucalyptus macrocarpa from Western Australia has the largest gumnut of any Eucalyptus species with nuts as big as 10 cm across! Eucalypts grow in all the different climates, regions and ecosystems of Australia. This makes them one of the most resilient and iconic of our trees.
Gum trees have been used by Aboriginal People for a very long time. Traditionally throughout the Murry-Darling basin, River Red gums are used to make canoes whereas in other regions, Stringy Barks are preferred. Eucalypt timber is also sometimes used in making boomerangs, shields, Yidaki’s (didgeridoos) and coolamons.
Eucalypts are called gum trees because of the sticky gum (sap) that oozes from any break in the bark. Gum tree bark can vary from dark, fissured ironbark to smooth, pale bark. Medicines such as eucalyptus cough drops are even made from the oils of the tree.
Because of their iconic status, Eucalyptus trees have had a significant role in shaping Australian history, art, culture, landscape and even childhood memories. Watch the videos below showing how gum trees feature in the stories of much-loved children’s book author, May Gibbs.