Herb: Snow Gum

Latin name: Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila

Synonyms: Eucalyptus coriacea alpina, Eucalyptus niphophila, Eucalyptus pauciflora alpina

Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)

Medicinal use of Snow 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. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is antiseptic. 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.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)

May to


Habitat of the herb:

Forms extensive forests in mountainous areas to 2000 metres.

Other uses of Snow Gum:

The leaves yield between 0.7 and 0.8% essential oil. It is a good antiseptic. Fairly tolerant of maritime exposure, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt in maritime areas. Wood is a good source of fuel.

Propagation of the herb:

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 Snow Gum:

Forms extensive forests in mountainous areas to 2000 metres.

Known hazards of Eucalyptus pauciflora niphophila:

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.