Garden Inventory is a series where I begin an inventory of all the plants and trees in my garden. Along with some of my own pictures, I will link to various sources of information about each plant and tree so we can learn a little more together.

I would also like to highlight your special plants and tress. Pass along your favorite plants in the comments and I will use them for future Garden Inventory posts. — Douglas

Garden Inventory: Eucalyptus

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One of the largest — and most striking trees — in our garden is this large eucalyptus planted by the previous owners. It used to have a matching twin, but that tree threatened to come crashing down on the garden, power and phone lines during a past, rain heavy, El Niño year here in Southern California.

It is said that eucalyptus were originally brought to California from Australia to be used as cheap wood for railroad ties during the settling of the American West. It was only after they were heavily planted, though, that the people realized they were nearly worthless due to tendency of the wood to twist and split. In fact, it is this same tendency which seems to make the eucalyptus shed limbs at a rather frightening rate. It is typical after a strong wind storm to see eucalyptus limbs scattered about. Still, with our tree, we have been very lucky as it has not had any major structural failures in the 16 years we have owned the property.

Instead of railroad ties, eucalyptus is now heavily used as windbreak trees throughout the Southern California area. You will find them nearly anywhere you visit, but especially lining farm fields and citrus groves.

Eucalyptus are mostly native to Australia, although some species do grow elsewhere in Indonesia. 

Eucalyptus oil is often used in cough and cold remedies and in the past I have taken a small branch of leaves to hang just outside my shower. The steam from the shower helps to release the oils.  It smells wonderful and can help to relieve basic chest and sinus congestion. 

More information on eucalyptus: