Herb: Tasmanian Blue Gum

Latin name: Eucalyptus globulus

Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)

Medicinal use of Tasmanian Blue 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 adult leaves, without their petioles, are antiperiodic, antiseptic, aromatic, deodorant, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic and stimulant. The leaves, and the essential oil they contain, are antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant, febrifuge and stimulant. Extracts of the leaves have antibacterial activity. 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. The oil from this species has a somewhat disagreeable odour and so it is no longer used so frequently for medicinal purposes, other members of the genus being used instead. 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. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Respiratory system".

Description of the plant:


55 m
(180 feet)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Damp marshy areas on moist loams and clays. Found in hilly country or moist valleys in deep rich soils.

Edible parts of Tasmanian Blue Gum:

An essential oil from the fresh or dried leaves is used as a flavouring in sweets, baked goods, ice cream etc.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves and the essential oil in them are used as an insect repellent. The trees can also be planted in wet areas where mosquitoes abound. The ground will be dried out by the trees, making it unsuitable for the mosquitoes to breed. A decoction of the leaves is used for repelling insects and vermin. Africans use finely powdered bark as an insect dust. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves. It is used in perfumery and in medicines. The yield is about 0.9% by steam distillation. The essential oil is also in spot removers for cleaning off oil and grease. Yields of 40 to 45 kilos of oil per hectare have been reported. A yellow/brown dye is obtained from the young leaves. It does not require a mordant. Grey and green dyes are obtained from the young shoots. A dark green dye is obtained from the young bark. Wood - heavy, (or light according to another report), durable, fire resistant. An important timber species, it is used for various purposes such as carpentry, construction, fences, piles, platforms, plywood, poles, sheds, tool handles and veneer. The oil-rich wood is resistant to termites. This is one of the best eucalypts for pulp production for making paper.

Propagation of Tasmanian Blue 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:

Damp marshy areas on moist loams and clays. Found in hilly country or moist valleys in deep rich soils.

Known hazards of Eucalyptus globulus:

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. The plant is reported to cause contact dermatitis. Sensitive persons may develop urticaria from handling the foliage and other parts of the plant.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.