As noted by Webster, Eucalyptus trees are beautiful trees native to Australia
. They are prized for their form, fast growth, and fragrant leaves. For these reasons they are frequently planted in California
, and Florida
(in most other areas they are killed by freezes) However, eucalyptus trees have several landscape
problems which you should consider before plopping yet another one into the landscape. (Note: if you live in Australia
, some of these will not apply)
Flammability: Eucalyptus trees are extremely flammable. In their natural habitat they experience frequent fires and sprout back from stems and stumps. Although the fires don't damage the trees much, they will definitely damage your house if planted nearby. Eucalyptus trees have been reported to have flames that shoot a hundred feet in the air and incinerate anything nearby. yet they are heavily planted in fire-prone areas such as malibu. Consider this if you live near a brushy hillside.. a santa ana wind and a spark could mean destruction of your house and endangerment of your lives
Weak wood: since eucalyptus trees grow so fast, their wood is rather weak. After a wind storm, the ground under a large eucalyptus is usually coated in branches. Although most are small, a mature tree can drop huge branches that can destroy cars and damage houses. People have been killed by branches randomly dropping off eucalyptus trees as well.
Invasibility: although they are not as much a problem as tamarisk or star thistle, eucalyptus trees can naturalize and crowd out native vegetation, disrupt hydrological regimes, and increase fire severity.
the oily leaves in eucalyptus kill most things planted under them. if the leaves are not removed quickly they negate lawns and most other landscaping under them. Pretty much the only things that can survive under an euchalyptus are poison oak or english ivy.
their roots rip the heck out of sidewalks or foundations. These voracious roots also suck massive amounts of water from the soil. Eucalyptus groves in canyons have literally sucked all the water from creeks that used to flow all year.
They can actually kill birds. Many birds in Australia are specially adapted to feed off of the gummy euchalyptus flowers, using their long beaks. Birds in other parts of the world, such as California, lack this adaptation. Oftentimes, in large eucalyptus groves many birds can be found dead on the ground, their mouths glued shut by the gummy secretion formed by the flowers. These trees may also have the same effect on butterflies.
Ironically, despite all these problems, well meaning 'environmentalists' are fighting for the protection of huge invasive stands of eucalyptus near San Francisco. They consider these trees 'heritage trees' even though many are under 20 years old. In addition they have displaced many redwoods and oaks, which can not survive where eucalyptus grows. How someone can prefer a silent, dead eucalyptus grove over a majestic redwood grove or a stately hillside of live oaks i can not understand. There are definitely some huge, majestic eucalyptus trees in California. However, most of them are weedy pests causing a wealth of problems. If you live in a natural area outside of Australia, please don't plant these trees.