Eucalyptus trees are native to Australia. They have been introduced into many other parts of the world, including South America. Eucalyptus trees have done well throughout the Andean region. Ecologically they are a mixed bag. Eucalyptus trees have been used in many places to stop erosion. This is why they were brought into Ecuador in the 19th Century by President Garcia Moreno. Eucalyptus trees also drink a lot of water. They have even been planted to help dry up malarial swamps to the benefit of public health. This is also the environmental downside. In some cases Eucalyptus may use water to the detriment of the indigenous flora of regions where they have been introduced. There has been concern that they can impact the water table in some areas of the world.
Uses of Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus has many uses:
Eucalyptus Wood is fast growing, yet it is a hard wood used to make furniture and deck material - good indoors and out. It has been used for shipbuilding. The floors of the bedrooms of our Quito apartment are of Eucalyptus. We had them sanded and varnished just after we bought the apartment - they are beautiful. Eucalyptus wood is also used in Australia to make the didgeridoo, the traditional Aboriginal wind instrument with the deep, haunting, vibrating tone. Eucalyptus trees can be cut down almost to ground level and they will grow back from the roots - without re-planting. Pretty amazing.
Eucalyptus Pulpwood is used to make fine paper and tissue paper. The fibers are slender, but yet relatively thick walled. This gives uniform paper formation and high opacity that are important for all types of fine papers. The low coarseness is important for high quality coated papers.
Eucalyptus Leaves are used to distill essential oils used for cleaning, deodorizing, and in very small quantities in food supplements, especially sweets, cough drops, toothpaste and decongestants. It also has insect repellent properties and is an active ingredient in some commercial mosquito repellents. And in Australia, of course, the succulent leaves are the primary food for Koala Bears.
Eucalyptus in Ecuador - Good or Bad
When I was a young student in the early 70's hitch-hiking through Ecuador I spent some time in Riobamba with a Peace Corps volunteer. He was leading a project to plant Eucalyptus trees for erosion control, and then later as a cash crop - it is a fond memory. Much of Ecuador receives a lot of rainfall, so perhaps the invasive use of water is not so bad here. To me Eucalyptus trees are beautiful, and I love the pungent odor of a Eucalyptus forest. I know Eucalyptus trees have been in Ecuador for less than 150 years, but I cannot imagine an Ecuador without them. So, I think they are good. Take a look for yourself.
Left to Right - Tracie and Ansley and my Daughter Jessica in Ecuador
Not Eucalyptus, but Very Pretty
Eucalyptus Floors - Our Quito Apartment
I Can almost Smell it from Here
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