Herb: Red River Gum

Latin name: Eucalyptus camaldulensis

Synonyms: Eucalyptus rostratus

Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)

Medicinal use of Red River Gum:

Eucalyptus leaves are a traditional Aboriginal herbal remedy. The essential oil found in the leaves is a powerful antiseptic and is used all over the world for relieving coughs and colds, sore throats and other infections. The essential oil is a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cold remedies. The plant is an aromatic, astringent, tonic herb that sticks to the teeth and turns the saliva red. The report says that the leaves, essential oil and oleo-resin are used, but does not specify which properties apply to the different parts of the plant. The leaves and the oil will have very similar properties, the oil being much stronger in its effect since it is distilled from the leaves. Detailed below is how the oleo-resin and oil are commonly used in other species. The essential oil obtained from various species of eucalyptus is a very powerful antiseptic, especially when it is old, because ozone is formed in it on exposure to air. It has a decided disinfectant action, destroying the lower forms of life. The oil can be used externally, applied to cuts, skin infections etc, it can also be inhaled for treating blocked nasal passages, it can be gargled for sore throat and can also be taken internally for a wide range of complaints. Some caution is advised, however, because like all essential oils, it can have a deleterious effect on the body in larger doses. An oleo- resin is exuded from the tree. It can also be obtained from the tree by making incisions in the trunk. This resin contains tannin and is powerfully astringent, it is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and bladder inflammation, externally it is applied to cuts etc. Treats throat ailments.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy to heavy soils, usually along the banks of streams.

Edible parts of Red River Gum:

Seed. No further details are given but the seed is very small, not much bigger than a speck of dust.

Other uses of the herb:

A gum is obtained from the plant. It is used medicinally and in tanning. The leaves contain 0.1 - 0.4% essential oil, 77% of which is cineol There is some cuminal, phellandrene, aromadendren (or aromadendral), and some valerylaldehyde, geraniol, cymene, and phellandral. The leaves contain 5 - 11% tannin. The kino contains 45% kinotannic acid as well as kino red, a glycoside, catechol, and pyrocatechol. The leaves and fruits test positive for flavonoids and sterols. The bark contains 2.5 - 16% tannin, the wood 2 - 14%, and the kino 46.2 - 76.7%. A fast growing tree with wide-ranging roots, it can be planted in soil stabilization schemes and can also be planted in marshy land where it will help in draining the land, thereby destroying a potential breeding site for mosquitoes. It is planted in S. Italy for this purpose. The wood, durable, easy to saw, yet resistant to termites, is widely used in Australia for strong durable construction, interior finish, flooring, cabinetry, furniture, fence posts, cross-ties, sometimes pulpwood. Australian aborigines made canoes from the bark. According to NAS (1980a), annual wood yields are around 20 - 25 m3/ha in Argentina, 30 m3 from Israel, 17 - 20 from Turkey in the first rotation, and 25 - 30 in subsequent coppice rotations. On poor arid sites yields are only 2 - 11 m3 on 14 or 15 year rotations.

Propagation of Red River Gum:

Seed - surface sow February/March in a sunny position in a greenhouse. Species that come from high altitudes appreciate 6 - 8 weeks cold stratification at 2C. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as the second set of seed leaves has developed, if left longer than this they might not move well. Plant out into their permanent positions in early summer and give them some protection from the cold in their first winter. The seed can also be sown in June, the young trees being planted in their final positions in late spring of the following year. The seed has a long viability.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sandy to heavy soils, usually along the banks of streams.

Known hazards of Eucalyptus camaldulensis:

Citronellal, an essential oil found in most Eucalyptus species is reported to be mutagenic when used in isolation. In large doses, oil of eucalyptus, like so many essential oils has caused fatalities from intestinal irritation. Death is reported from ingestion of 4 - 24 ml of essential oils, but recoveries are also reported for the same amount. Symptoms include gastroenteric burning and irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, oxygen deficiency, ,weakness, dizziness, stupor, difficult respiration, delirium, paralysis, convulsions, and death, usually due to respiratory failure.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.