February 1, 2009

Eucalyptus: I Am Not A Detective or a Koala

Do you ever feel like a detective? Do you search for clues, examine photos and web surf for hours in search of the exact name of a plant? I have just fired myself from my own detective work!

In the absence of a real expert, a koala, I must turn to other experts for the answer to my eucalyptus mystery.

My gardening friends -- what type of eucalyptus is growing in my garden?

Here's what I know about my eucalyptus. It was planted in the fall of 2005. The main trunk has withered and died in the spring and new growth has emerged.

As you can see from today's photos, the eucalyptus looks fine through the Zone 7, North Carolina winter. We've had 8°F lows, frosts and snow. It is actually quite attractive this time of year, so I want to know more about this tree.

The leaves are fragrant when crushed. During the cold months, the stems are more reddish than on the new growth. Right now, the tree is around 15' x 6' (guessing).

Growing on the west side of the house, the eucalyptus provides a wonderful accent in the winter. It is planted beside our parking area.

I still haven't tried to create gardens on that side of the house, but I do want to give this area some attention this year. Before I dare try to grow anything around the eucalyptus, I must know the identity.

Is this eucalyptus a friend or foe?

So far, it has not sent out any runners and remains in a tight clump in the original spot. There have been no seed pods, so no strays have shown up anywhere.

As we do get sufficient rainfall, except in times of extreme drought, I don't think this tree is a flammable hazard.

Your help in identifying this eucalyptus is greatly appreciated!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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