There are no taller trees in the world than eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus amygdalin, the world's tallest known tree, towers as high as 480 feet, according to Botanical. These unusually large trees are also known for their rapid growth rate with some that grow as much as almost 125 feet tall in only three years. Longevity is another characteristic of the eucalyptus tree, with the Eucalyptus camaldulensis, which is a gum species, living as long as 500 to 1,000 years.
The eucalyptus tree gets its name from the Greek word “eucalyptos” (meaning “well-covered”)--a cup-like membrane covers the tree’s flower buds. Whenever the tree's flower buds expand, they throw off this covering. A woody receptacle containing many tiny seeds surrounds the tree’s fruit. The eucalyptus tree has rubbery leaves that hang either vertically or obliquely. Eucalyptus leaves are mostly known for containing fragrant oil.
Eucalyptus trees originally came from Australia. There are more than 700 species dominating the plant life there, according to Cirrus Image. Today they grow in southern Europe and India, as well as North and South Africa. In the United States, they're found mostly in California.
The eucalyptus tree gives year-round shade and has a pleasant fragrance. The tree's fragrance acts as a repellent to fleas and ticks, which benefits pets and their owners. Oil from the eucalyptus tree has many uses such as flavoring cough and cold medicines. It's used to make emulsions for treating lung diseases, croup and throat infections. Eucalyptus oil is made into a medication used by veterinarians in treating animals for distemper and parasitic skin infections. The timber from eucalyptus trees is used in making furniture and other items.
Eucalyptuses are categorized by their bark characteristics. Box eucalyptuses have scaly bark over the trunk and branches, with its leaves and buds smaller than other eucalyptuses. Mallees grow low and have a root system that allows the tree to make new shoots even it has been destroyed above ground by cold weather or fire. Gums have a smooth, light-colored trunk and are known for shedding a bark layer from all their branches and trunk. Stringybarks have a gray or reddish-brown bark with long stringy fibers. Peppermints have an interlaced fine bark that can be fibrous. Ironbarks have hard barks that are ridged, and Yates eucalyptuses produce flowers known as gumnuts.
Because eucalyptuses are aggressive trees, they can hinder the growth of other nearby plants, taking needed minerals and water from them. A eucalyptus tree can also fall without any warning and has been nicknamed “widowmaker,” according to an article in the Marin Independent Journal.