Herb: Manna Gum
Latin name: Eucalyptus viminalis
Synonyms: Eucalyptus angustifolia
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle Family)
Medicinal use of Manna Gum:A sweet manna exuded from the plant has a mild laxative effect. The essential oil found in the leaves shows an antiviral effect and can be used in the treatment of influenza. The leaves inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. The leafy twig decoction was used to bathe rheumatic limbs.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Cool moist sites, usually on better soils, to 1400 metres.
Edible parts of Manna Gum:A manna is exuded from the leaves (from the bark as well according to some reports) as a result of insect damage. The red gum or manna exuding from cracks in the bark is eaten eagerly by boys. Eucalyptus manna, which exudes from punctures in summer months, is sometimes consumed. A very pleasant sweet taste, it is slightly laxative. The aboriginal Australians collected it after it fell to the ground, or they scraped it from the leaves. Heavily covered leaves were pounded and baked. Since the manna is probably formed as a result of insect damage, it is quite possible that it will not be formed in Britain because the same insects will not be able to live here. The manna contains the sugars arabinose, raffinose, dextrose, and sucrose.
Other uses of the herb:The leaves contain between 0.35 - 0.75% essential oil, of which 50 - 65% is cineol, 5% is pinene, and 10% is eudesmol. The bark contains 4.8 - 8% tannin. The red gum or manna exuding from cracks in the bark has been used for making adhesives. Planted in S. Europe for soil stabilization and to drain marshes in order to get rid of malarial mosquitoes. Wood - coarse grained, durable in the soil, excellent quality. In rich soils the wood is not so hard or durable. The wood, which weighs about 51 lb./cu ft, is used for building, construction, joinery, and vehicles. It is considered suitable for paper pulp and is a moderately good fuel.
Propagation of Manna 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 2°C. 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:Cool moist sites, usually on better soils, to 1400 metres.
Known hazards of Eucalyptus viminalis: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.