Cultivation and properties of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labill., 1800) are a genus of evergreen arboreal plants from Oceania (Tasmania, Australia and New Guinea) that belong to the Mirtaceae family (there are about 600 species). The term Eucalyptus derives from the Greek εὖ, “well”, and καλύπτω, “hide”, in reference to the fact that the petals hide the rest of the flower. The eucalyptuses are evergreen plants with also considerable dimensions that can overcome with some species even the 90 meters; in Italy because of the different climate these plants usually reach no more than 25 meters. The eucalyptuses have a smooth bark with flowers formed by a goblet in the shape of a closed cup which detaches with flowering; the fruit has the shape of a capsule and inside it contains many small seeds.
Of the sixty species that are useful from an economic point of view, various uses are made, including those for the pharmacological and phytotherapeutic use of essential oil, the use of wood as firewood or for the manufacture of paper.
The eucalyptuses are also used as windbreaks and as ornamental plants and in floriculture for the production of fronds.
In Italy, as in the reclamation of the Agro Pontino and in many other areas, numerous eucalyptus specimens have been planted both for use as windbreaks and to keep the nearby water drainage channels as “dry as possible” and avoid stagnation of water responsible for the proliferation of the anopheles mosquito. The eucalyptus trees in fact need a rather high water requirement compared to the native vegetation.
In Sicily they were set up to start a paper supply chain which then, for various reasons, was never launched.
The active ingredients of eucalyptus are present in the leaves that are dried and stored, then used for internal use in infused or for external use in suffumigi. With the essence of eucalyptus candies or tablets are prepared for cough problems or bronchitis¸ of eucalyptus are used the essential oils to be vaporized in environments or in preparations for aerosols. Eucalyptus is indicated for fluidizing and eliminating bronchial secretions, as a treatment of fever and to combat asthma and is recommended against inflammation of the urogenital and intestinal tract. Other therapeutic applications are: antiviral and anti-inflammatory and against rheumatism; as an insecticide it can be useful to eliminate parasites, it stimulates the immune system and is antineuralgic. It is used in the treatment of blisters caused by chickenpox, cold sores and shingles. It is interesting to know that eucalyptus is a mellifera plant that is bottled by bees, allowing them to produce abundant honey, which in large extensions can be monoflora and with the same balsamic properties of the plant.
For the cultivation of eucalyptus it is good to choose the spring period in which you can transplant the young seedlings. Being a tree is native to Oceania that is well suited to the Mediterranean climate can be cultivated in the Center, in the South and on the Italian islands. In the north it is better to avoid choosing the E. globulus species and to take more frost resistant species. Eucalyptus has no special requirements in terms of the quality of the soles and also grows in poor and shallow soils. Its optimal development, however, occurs in clayey soils, deep and very humid but possibly not alkaline. The eucalyptus plant is a species that does not fear water stagnations; especially the Eucalyptus globulus species prefers a strong humidity.