After seeing Cai's wonderful exhibition, in particular his exhibit of the eucalyptus tree, it had the effect on me he wanted - it sparked my interest - to find out more about them, to notice them and appreciate them. I grew up with eucalyptus trees, they were brought to Cyprus to fight off the swamps and the malaria and they did very well in that dry mediterranean climate. They have a distinct smell and I always associated them with the ancient ruins of Salamis and areas around Famagusta where they grew in prolific numbers. Having moved to Australia now I find them again here, and whereas in Cyprus I knew of one species here I need to acquaint myself with 700 !
They are thought to be 35 to 50 million year old trees. Their oils make them inflammable but their barks make them hardy so amazingly while fires spread horribly with them, they are also the reason for quick reforestation. There are so many varieties here it is actually fascinating to find out all about them. Colloquially they are called "gum trees" because of the sap they produce, but there are spotted gums and red gums, grey gums and black gum, not to mention scribbly gum. The barks can be dark and rough, smooth like silk, greenish, pink, cream, or grey. The leaves have that characteristic oval shape and are silvery green for the most part. Of course their name is from the Greek which means well covered. This refers to how the flower is concealed. Their wood makes exquisite flooring.
They have been used by the aboriginals to make their didgeridoos, by others to extract oil for medicinal purposes. The oil acts as a natural insecticide and last but not least it is the favourite tree and food for koalas. These are ones we saw in the wild in Great Otway National park at the weekend.We spotted them high up on the trees eating and sleeping the two things they do best. One walked across the road so we stopped to look and he/ she looked back at us with a sweet welcoming face.
Perhaps the most interesting fact of all is that eucalyptus trees draw up gold through their roots and deposit them as tiny particles on their leaves. It is certainly a new way to check the gold deposits of the earth. These trees are golden in every which way and Cai saw exactly that when he chose to exhibit a eucalyptus tree in his magnificent exhibition.