Eucalyptus (Blue-gum) - Astrikas, north west Crete
West Crete Journal, August 2005

Eucalyptus (Blue-gum)

Origin: Australia
Eucalyptus globulus

Eucalyptus trees are fast growers and many species reach a great height.  Eucalyptus amygdalin (Labille) is the tallest known tree, specimens attaining as much as 150 metres, exceeding in height even the Californian Sequoia. Many species yield valuable timber, while others are used for extraction of oils, kino, etc.

A great number of species yield essential oils, some being more aromatic than others, and the oils from the various species differ widely in character.

Baron Ferdinand von Müller, a German botanist, explorer, and from 1857 to 1873 Director of the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, led to its introduction into Europe, Africa and the Americas.  He was the first to suggest that the perfume of the leaves might be of use as a disinfectant in fever districts.

Some seeds were planted in Algiers in 1857 and thrived.  It was found that the value of the antiseptic aromas of the leaves in fever or marshy districts was far exceeded by the powerful drying action of the roots on the soil.  Five years after planting the Eucalyptus, one of the most marshy and unhealthy districts of Algiers was converted into one of the healthiest and driest.

As a result, the rapidly growing Eucalyptus trees were widely introduced into many temperate regions, including Crete, with the view of preventing malarial fever.

Despite modern mosquito prevention methods, many villages in Crete continue to plant and maintain lines of Eucalyptus trees for shade, aroma and decoration.