Herb: Red Bloodwood

Latin name: Eucalyptus gummifera

Synonyms: Eucalyptus corymbosa

Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)

Medicinal use of Red Bloodwood:

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. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is antiseptic, astringent and parasiticide. It is used in the treatment of various skin complaints. 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.

Description of the plant:


15 m
(49 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Sandy gravelly to loamy sandy soils by the coast and up to 1000 metres. Dry sclerophyll forests, mainly on sandstone soils but also sometimes on shales.

Edible parts of Red Bloodwood:

The flowers produce copious amounts of nectar which can be sucked from the flowers or mixed with water to make a sweet drink that is called "bool" in Australia.

Other uses of the herb:

This tree might be suitable as a windbreak near the coast. Wood - red, hard, very durable in the soil, but it has gum streaks and veins. Rarely attacked by white ants, it is used mainly as a fuel, for which it is very good.

Propagation of Red Bloodwood:

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 gravelly to loamy sandy soils by the coast and up to 1000 metres. Dry sclerophyll forests, mainly on sandstone soils but also sometimes on shales.

Known hazards of Eucalyptus gummifera:

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.