Herb: Blue Mallee

Latin name: Eucalyptus polybractea

Synonyms: Eucalyptus polybracteata

Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)

Medicinal use of Blue Mallee:

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 essential oil obtained from the leaves is antirheumatic, antiseptic and expectorant. This is one of the main species used for its medicinal oils, which contain up to 85% eucalyptol. 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)


Habitat of the herb:

Poor clayey and sandy soils in the semi-arid interior

Edible parts of Blue Mallee:

An essential oil from the leaves is used as a food flavouring in baked goods, ice cream and sweets.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves yield up to 1.3% of an essential oil. It is used medicinally and as a food flavouring. The wood is used as a fuel.

Propagation of Blue Mallee:

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:

Poor clayey and sandy soils in the semi-arid interior

Known hazards of Eucalyptus polybractea:

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.