The Peppermint box (Eucalyptus odorata Behr) is an arboreal species belonging to the Myrtaceae family.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Species E. odorata.
The terms are synonymous:
– Eucalyptus cajuputea Benth. Miq .;
– Eucalyptus fruticetorum F.Muell. ex Miq. Pp;
– Eucalyptus odorata var. angustifolia Blakely;
– Eucalyptus odorata var. erythrandra F. Muell. ex Miq .;
– Eucalyptus odorata Behr var. odorata;
– Eucalyptus odorata var. refracta Blakely;
– Eucalyptus polybractea auct. not RTBaker.
The term Eucalyptus comes from the Greek ἐῧ éu true, well, to perfection and κᾰλυπτός kalýptos to cover, to hide: for the lobes of the chalice and the joined petals they form a cap that completely encloses the closed buds.
The specific epithet odorato comes from odóro exhale perfume: fragrant, perfumed, with a pleasant smell.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Eucalyptus odorata is an endemic tree of southern Australia and in particular eastern southern Australia and western Victoria.
This plant grows in a variety of habitats, but most commonly in hilly environments up to altitudes of 600 meters.
Eucalyptus odorata is a small tree that typically grows to a height of between 2 and 12 meters.
It has a rough, hard bark on the trunk and larger branches; the bark is smooth grayish on the thinnest branches.
Young plants and in the growth of the coppice have lanceolate leaves 40–105 mm long and 4–23 mm wide. Adult leaves have the same shade of glossy green on both sides when mature, lance-shaped, 55-140 mm long and 6-20 mm wide; these taper down to the petalle, which is 5-15 mm long.
The flowers, white in color, are arranged in the axils of the leaves in groups of seven, nine, or eleven on an unbranched peduncle, individual sessile buds, or on peduncles up to 6 mm long.
Ripe buds have an oval shape, 4-8 mm long and 2-4 mm wide with a conical operculum.
Flowering occurs between March and October.
The fruit is a cylindrical barrel-shaped woody capsule, 4-8 mm long and 4-7 mm wide, with the valves near the edge.
Eucalyptus odorata, as mentioned, is a plant of the mild, warm temperate climate of Australia. In these areas, it rains mainly in winter, with an average annual rainfall of 375 to 750 mm. There are, generally, about 5 to 15 frosts per year.
This species, like other eucalyptus trees, generally requires a sunny location, succeeding in a wide range of soils, provided the pH is close to neutral, well-drained and of low to moderate fertility.
The plant develops a woody tuber that begins to develop near the base of the seedlings and can become massive in mature plants of some species. It has built-in vegetative buds, which allow the plant to regenerate following the destruction of the canopy, for example after a fire.
This species does not have a deciduous habit and continues to grow until it is too cold to do so. This makes it more susceptible to damage from sudden colds. If temperature changes are more gradual, such as in a forest, the plants have a chance to stop growing and become dormant, making them more resistant to cold. To prevent soil from freezing around the roots, a vegetable mulch can be useful.
However, this species quickly adapts to new environments and there may be a significant increase in the robustness of subsequent generations, propagated by seed.
Propagation occurs by seed with surface sowing in the late winter – early spring in a sunny position and in a greenhouse.
Species that come from high altitudes appreciate the cold stratification of 6 – 8 weeks at 2 ° C.
Transplanting of young seedlings, in the field, must be carried out at the beginning of the summer, providing for the repair of the young plants from the cold in the first winter.
The seed can also be sown in early summer; in this case the young trees are planted in their final positions in the late spring of the following year. The seed has a long vitality.
Customs and Traditions –
The Peppermint box is a plant of which virtually everything is used both for medicinal purposes and for the use of wood and biomass.
The crushed leaves of this plant have a sweet aroma.
The resin from the trunk, can be used for medicinal purposes and is very astringent. Diluted, it can be internally treated as an effective treatment for dissentry; this is not absorbed at all by the stomach and only very slowly by the intestine, and is thus able to directly treat the lower part of the intestine.
It can be used as a gargle and mouthwash to treat throat and tooth problems.
Applied externally as a wash, it is an effective hemostatic and can be used to treat cuts and skin problems.
Among other uses, it is recalled that an essential oil rich in cineole is obtained from the leaves. The leaves contain about 1.9% essential oil, of which up to 83% is 1,8-cineole.
The resin is rich in tannins and are very astringent. It is water soluble and can be used medicinally; in tanning; as well as preserving and dyeing natural fibers. When boiled in an iron pot, it produces a thick, dark liquid that can be used as ink.
The resin flows naturally from the wounds in the trunk and can be tapped by making incisions in the bark. It is a thick liquid at first, but soon hardens with exposure to air and sun, drying to an amber-like consistency, consisting of dark red angular fragments, rarely larger than a pea.
This resin, which takes the name of kino, as soon as it exudes, is more effective than the one that has remained on the tree for a long time, since the soluble part can be more or less washed and the action of the sun can alter its chemical composition.
The wood of this plant, which is light brown in color, is dense, fine and straight-grained. It is very hard, resistant and considered of decent quality even if it never reaches large dimensions. It has been used for purposes such as aisles, railings, slabs, fence posts and more.
Wood is also used as a fuel.
Preparation Mode –
From Eucalyptus odorata, the resin can be used for medicinal purposes due to its astringent capacity.
It can be taken diluted against dysentery or as a raw material for gargles and mouthwashes to treat throat and tooth problems.
It can also be used externally as a hemostat and can be used to treat cuts and skin problems.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.